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The Dark Side Of Chocolate Production

2068 words - 8 pages

Introduction

The 58 million pounds of chocolate eaten on chocolate the drenched holiday of Valentines Day is likely made from cocoa beans from West Africa. The Ivory Coast, also known as Cote D'ivoire in Africa is the source of about 35 percent of the world’s cocoa production. These cocoa beans were likely harvested by unpaid child workers that are being held captive on plantations as slaves. Chocolate companies use these cocoa plantations as their cocoa source for their chocolate products. And since the companies want to maximize their profit, they push plantation owners to lower prices, causing plantations to cut price any way possible (Philpott).

The result is children getting trafficked into Ivory Coast from surrounding countries like Mali and Ghana, and then sold to plantations to become slaves so the plantations don’t have to pay for workers. Most of the children will never see their families again and will not receive an education. If they are eventually released or escape from the plantation, they will most likely live in poverty for the rest of their lives because they didn’t receive an education as a child and lack basic knowledge (Philpott). The chocolate industry has the power to reduce child slavery and child trafficking on the West Coast of Africa by simply paying plantations proper wages, but what will cause them to take that step in ending the cruelty?

Daily Life On a Plantation & Basic Facts

There are plantations throughout West Africa, but the country most abundant with them is Ivory Coast (Romano). On these plantations, children work about 80-100 hours weeks. They are paid nothing and they receive no education. They’re often under fed, making it difficult for them to have enough energy to do work. Most of them have never even tasted chocolate. If they attempt to escape, they are severely beaten (Gregory). The estimated number of children working in the fields of the Ivory Coast is 200,000. The numbers have continued to rise over the years (Mckenzie). Not only is the slave work physically demanding, but it is also very dangerous. (Mckenzie).

On the plantations, these child workers strike the cocoa bean pod with a machete and pry it open with the tip of the machete blade, exposing the beans. With every strike of the machete, the child is at risk to severely cutting him or herself. Almost every child on the farm has scars on their hands, arms, legs or shoulders from accidents when handling the large knife (Johnson). In addition to the hazards of using machetes, kids have to use farming chemicals on the cocoa beans when harvesting. Tropical regions like The Ivory Coast have to deal with a huge insect population and choose to spray the pods with large amounts of industrial chemicals used for agricultural purposes. They do all of this without the necessary protective equipment (Johnson). Ally Diabates, former child slave quoted “Some of the bags were taller than me. It took two people to put the bag on my head. And when...

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