Child labor in the cocoa sector: ‘both a symptom and contributing factor to poverty’ - podcast

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Child labor in the cocoa sector: ‘both a symptom and contributing factor to poverty’ - podcast

Related tags Podcast Cargill Cocoa Poverty

The wellbeing of children and youth in cocoa-growing communities was an important item on the agenda of WCF’s recent partnership meeting in Brazil. Taco Terheijden, Cargill group director, sustainability, explains what his company is doing to improve conditions for young people working in the cocoa sector.

In a blog post last year for the World Cocoa Foundation, Tim McCoy, the organization’s vice president for country relations, wrote about how child labor in the cocoa sector is ‘both a symptom and contributing factor to poverty’​.

He said it is still a work in progress and the theme was picked up at the WCF’s partnership meeting in São  Paulo in October when he chaired a session: The Well-Being of Children and Youth in Cocoa-Growing Communities.

Included on the panel was Nick Weatherill, executive director of the International Cocoa Initiative, who published a report on child labor last year​; and Taco Terheijden, Cargill’s head of sustainability, whom I interviewed for this podcast after the session ended.

In his opening remarks, McCoy said estimates to tackle child labor in the cocoa sector would cost at least half a billion dollars to help children in the 15-17 age group.

Terheijden asked the audience a simple question:  ‘What can we do as an actor in the cocoa supply chain?’ He said one of the most important points is for cocoa suppliers to raise awareness and interact with the families of farmers.


The use of data to help look at the relation between child labor and product of farm was crucial, and working with partners such as ICI, who play a crucial for collating data, was proof that suppliers are better off working together, Terhijden told delegates.

He said Cargill was committed to sharing its information with governments and NGOs.

Cargill has huge presence in the agriculture sector in Brazil and he spoke about Cargill’s support for Childhood Brazil, an NGO child protection program to prevent abuse of children in the country’s general supply chain.

To hear more on this and Cargill’s Cocoa Promise, listen to our podcast above.

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