A strong signal: 122,826 people demand fair chocolate!

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In December of 2015 activists from Make Chocolate Fair! handed over 122,826 signatures to the the Association of Chocolate, Biscuit and Confectionery Industries of Europe (CAOBISCO) in Brussels. Thereby they demanded from the chocolate industry:

Wir verlangen von den Schokoladenproduzenten:

Chocolate companies have to guarantee a living income for small-scale farmers in order to secure a decent living for themselves and their families in relation to the total cost of living in their respective country. Only if cocoa farmers will receive a decent income can they pay a living wage to the workers they hire. The average income of cocoa farmers and workers especially in West Africa is far below the level of absolute poverty which means living on 1,25 USD and less per day. The income must cover the basic needs of the earners and their families which include shelter, nutrition, drinking water, health care, education, child care, taxes and transportation amongst others. With regard to small-scale producers, such an income refers to a fair minimum price for their cocoa beans, enabling them to pay a living wage to their hired workers. Further, a fair payment prevents farmers from using child labour and allows parents to pay school related costs for their children.

Chocolate companies shall ensure the compliance with human rights and decent working conditions by fully respecting and implementing the internationally recognized principles as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights  and the  International Labour Organization  (ILO). In Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana alone over 2 million children are working on cocoa plantations, hundreds of thousands of them working under conditions which are not allowed by international standards (Source: Tulane Report 2015). Due to these serious grievances in cocoa production, companies must particularly oppose abusive child labour in accordance with the ILO conventions 182 and 138.

Chocolate companies have to contribute to the maintenance of a balanced ecological and climate system, as well as to good soil and water quality by supporting sustainable cocoa production. They shall increase the farmers’ capacities to diversify their agricultural products as diversification of income plays a crucial role in improving the living conditions of small-scale farmers. Cultivating and trading a variety of crops stabilizes the income of farmers and their workers by reducing the dependency on the barely profitable cocoa business. Furthermore, agricultural diversification protects them against crises such as crop failure caused by extreme weather conditions, minimizes the negative effects of extreme price fluctuations and enhances food security. With regard to both aspects, companies have to ensure regular trainings of cocoa farmers on climate and natural resource friendly agricultural practices and methods on agricultural diversification.

Chocolate companies must use an independent product certification system accompanied by an external monitoring system in order to guarantee adherence to social and ecological standards and to assure full transparency along the supply chain. Given the fact that independent certification of products still only holds a small share of the overall production of chocolate, companies must hence substantially increase their use of certified cocoa with the long-term goal of aligning all their products to these standards. Despite an increase in certification from 2% in 2009 to 16% in 2013 most cocoa farmers still live in absolute poverty (Source: Cocoa Barometer 2015). That is why the demand for independent certification forms part of a larger package of demands that needs to be fulfilled, as certification alone is not sufficient to improve the living and working conditions in cocoa and chocolate production. 

A great success: Chocolate industry responds to the demands by Make Chocolate Fair!

Sabine Nafziger, Secretary General of CAOBISCO, received the signatures and declared that chocolate manufacturers will contribute to a living income calculation for cocoa farmers. Thereby the European chocolate industry responds to one of the most central demands, which the campaign Make Chocolate Fair! has been pressuring for during the past two years. The campaign views such a calculation as a crucial first step so that cocoa farmers will receive a fair price for their cocoa in the future.

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MCF activists handing over the petition signatures