CAMEROON – Olam Cocoa, one of the world’s leading cocoa suppliers has introduced the first of its kind, Child labour monitoring and remediation program to be rolled out in Cameroon as part of its global commitment to put children first by tackling child labour.
The new digitally-led initiative enhancing measures is aimed to help more children attend school across its entire direct supply chain.
Billie Elmqvist Thurén, Regional Child Labour Analyst at Olam Cocoa, said, “Access to education and freedom from child labour are basic human rights. We’re focused on making this a reality for every child and parent we work directly with in cocoa communities around the world.”
“But we need to act now to ensure we have full traceability of the cocoa in our direct supply chain, and most important of all, improve the lives of children and give them the opportunities their parents may not have had,” he added.
The company is working in partnership with the Fair Labor Association (FLA) and local cocoa farming cooperatives to digitally register its nearly 7,000 farmer suppliers in Cameroon and their households.
Through this they will introduce rigorous traceability and reporting systems, educate local communities about child labour, and set up dedicated child labour monitoring and remediation systems (CLMRS).
Olam Cocoa proactively partnered with the FLA to map the working conditions in its smallholder cocoa supply chain in the country in 2019.
The FLA team alongside Olam Cocoa’s local team engaged government stakeholders, civil society organisations, local community leaders, farmers, workers, and their families to understand the root causes of child labour.
The findings informed Olam Cocoa’s development of CLMRS in Cameroon.
Richa Mittal, Director, Supply Chain Innovation & Partnerships at the Fair Labor Association, said, “The FLA will continue to independently monitor and then publicly report on the company’s efforts to improve the conditions for the cocoa farmers and their families in the country.”
To facilitate this process, Olam Cocoa is introducing a new app to its Olam and Farmers Information System (OFIS) technology.
After providing training to community leads and equipping them with a smartphone, they can begin collecting social data.
This means that it is possible to identify children who are at high risk and take action much more quickly.
These data insights will then feed directly into Olam’s AtSource, a digital platform that gives its customers unprecedented visibility of the supply chain of their products.
Richa Mittal, Director, Supply Chain Innovation & Partnerships at the Fair Labor Association, said: “The FLA will continue to independently monitor and then publicly report on the company’s efforts to improve the conditions for the cocoa farmers and their families in the country.”
It is estimated that around 20% of school-aged children in Cameroon do not attend school.
The reasons for this are complex. One major cause is the fact that majority of the smallholder cocoa farmers have small plots with low yields, which makes it difficult to earn a living income.
In addition to that they cannot afford to pay for labour to help on their farms, thus prefer keeping their children at home to work the land rather than attend school.
Beyond Cameroon, the app will be used to cover nearly 223,000 farmers in 3 countries across West Africa, prioritising where the risk is highest.
Last year the company launched Cocoa Compass, its sustainability ambition for the future of the cocoa sector, which aims to tackle child labour and help children access education, support cocoa farmers to achieve a living income, protect forests through an increase in tree carbon stock and lower its natural capital costs.