NIGERIA – Barry Callebaut, a leading cocoa processing company in Nigeria, has taken a significant step to support the children of cocoa farmers by distributing instructional materials to over 330 children in cocoa farming communities in Ondo and Cross River States.

This initiative is part of a community-based child labor protection program aimed at enhancing educational standards and reducing the challenges faced by pupils and students in cocoa farming communities due to economic realities in the country.

Mujeeb Oniyide, the sustainability operations manager of the company, spoke during the flag-off ceremony of the school kits at various schools in Akure, the Ondo state capital.

He emphasized that the community-centric approach is essential to create empowered communities, support cocoa farmers, and create lasting positive changes for the future of children through the human rights due diligence pillar of their “Forever Chocolate” strategy.

“Barry Callebaut’s “back to school” initiative provides quality educational items, including school bags, lunch boxes, notebooks, writing materials like pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, rulers, mathematical sets, water bottles, and sporting items to over 330 children in 11 communities (5 in Ondo State and 6 in Cross-Rivers).”

He noted that the focus of the initiative is on adopting child-centric due diligence systems in cocoa farming communities, empowering these communities to protect child rights by recognizing children at risk of being involved in the worst forms of child labor and taking action to mitigate these risks.

“Forever Chocolate” is their plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm across their supply chain. They are committed to covering their entire supply chain with Human Rights Due Diligence by 2025, which includes monitoring and remediating child labor cases,” Oniyide explained.

Additionally, he noted that they have set a target for 2030, aiming to support cocoa farming communities in protecting child rights and preventing child labor.

He explained that the “Forever Chocolate” strategy focuses on four pillars: prospering farmers, human rights due diligence, thriving nature, and sustainable ingredients.

“Barry Callebaut Nigeria Cocoa and Chocolate is committed to making sustainable chocolate the standard by ensuring the future supply of cocoa and improving farmer livelihoods in the rural areas where cocoa is sourced,” he added.

Oniyide expressed his confidence that this initiative will not only benefit the schools and children but also encourage farmers and community members to understand the importance of education.

“It is our understanding that schools and children benefiting from this gesture will encourage many farmers and people living in the communities to understand the importance of education, encourage their wards to attend school regularly, and see the reason child labor should be discouraged in our cocoa farms.”