UK – Olam Food Ingredients (OFI), a leading supplier of cocoa beans and cocoa ingredients, has announced the successful establishment of child labour and deforestation monitoring systems covering its entire supply chain.

Child labour is defined by the International Labour Organisation as work that endangers children or interferes with their schooling.

In the cocoa industry, the problem of child labour is rampant. The Payson Center for International Development and Technology Transfer estimates that approximately 1.8 million children in the Ivory Coast and Ghana may be exposed to the worst forms of child labor on cocoa farms.

With growing pressure from consumers and activists around the world, companies in the cocoa industry have been forced to come up with measures to eradicate the use of child labor in cocoa farms.

Eradicating child labour in cocoa production

Olam on its part has implemented a  Child Labour Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) that  now covers 100% of its managed sustainability programmes which monitor 183,000 households in nine countries.

The company notes that the CLMRS is particularly a ground-breaking new tool for monitoring child labour in Cameroon, Uganda, Brazil and Indonesia.

With training and the help of a smartphone, community leads, and field officers now collect detailed social data on individual farming households, helping to identify children at risk and take faster, more effective action.

The company notes that adoption of the system has helped reduce instances of child labour and is thus a critical step towards its Cocoa Compass’s goal of eradicating child labour from the cocoa supply chain by 2030.

“Child labour anywhere in the cocoa supply chain is unacceptable, but the risk has increased over the past year as schools have closed due to the pandemic. By introducing this level of monitoring across all our cocoa sourcing countries, we want to make sure that cases are identified and dealt with as quickly as possible,” said Gerard A. Manley, CEO of OFI’s Cocoa Business.

Fighting deforestation in cocoa production

Deforestation is also a major problem in cocoa production.  According to a recently released report by Lumina Intelligence, 14.1 million hectares of forest was lost in the top 30 cocoa producing countries worldwide between 2012 and 2016.

The company notes that it has put in place deforestation monitoring systems covering its direct global supply chain which is comprised of almost 12,000 suppliers. This will help in protecting forests and improving the sustainability profile of cocoa projects.

In its first impact report published in April 2020, the company confirmed that along with its 100% direct supply chain traceability target reached last year, it has hit its remaining 2020 milestones.

The company further noted that it was now on the part towards achieving its 2024 and 2030 goals, which include targets on living incomes, child labour and natural capital.

OFI has also shared progress towards cutting its natural capital costs for the first time, assigning a monetary value to natural resources in the business which includes forests and healthy soil.

The company reported a 13% reduction in its processing operations and a 4% reduction in its agriculture operations in the year 2019/20 compared to the previous year.

It has also introduced satellite technology to map tree cover across its entire direct cocoa supplier network as part of its effort to reduce natural capital costs by 30% across its global cocoa supply chain by 2030.

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