23 May 2002 | Robin Parker
Cocoa buyers will face extra responsibility for monitoring their supply chains following a worldwide move to stamp out child labour, an ethical trading specialist has warned.
Eight international trade bodies have signed an agreement aimed at ending child labour in cocoa cultivation and processing in west Africa, where more than half the world's crop is grown.
A joint foundation will be set up in July to identify cocoa used in chocolate production that is grown without child labour.
The International Institute for Tropical Agriculture is conducting a study, partly funded by the industry, to educate farmers on labour practices.
The agreement comes a year after a ship suspected of containing child slaves went missing after leaving the Ivory Coast, sparking a debate on the use of child labour.
Ian Bretman, deputy director of the Fairtrade Foundation, set up in 1994 by charities including Oxfam and Christian Aid to promote ethical trading, welcomed the move.
But he said child labour was one of many complex issues facing small-scale producers, who are sometimes forced into such practices through poverty.
"The memorandum goes beyond companies simply having a code of conduct, and it will be incumbent upon buyers to ask how it will be implemented and monitored," he said.