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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

U.S. pledges millions to end child labor in Cocoa harvests

U.S. pledges millions to end child labor in Cocoa harvests

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government and the chocolate industry pledged $17 million on Monday to help end child labor — some of it forced and dangerous — in two African countries where much of the world’s cocoa is grown.

“”If there’s one thing people around the world share in common it’s our love of chocolate. But it is a bitter reality that the main ingredient in chocolate, cocoa, is produced largely by child labor,”” said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, at the agreement between industry, the Department of Labor, the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

A June 2001 investigation by Knight Ridder, gave readers a close-up look at the lives of boys who were tricked or sold into slavery on cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast. The stories led to a voluntary program by industry to end abusive and forced child labor on the cocoa farms. Harkin and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., drew up the agreement with industry in September 2001.

Harkin and Engel said Monday that while some progress had been made, large numbers of children are still working in the cocoa sector. Engel said there are times when he and Harkin are “”very, very frustrated by the slow pace”” of change.

The new plan calls for a 70 percent reduction of internationally unacceptable child labor by 2020.

The Labor Department pledged $10 million and chocolate industry groups pledged $7 million for building schools and helping rural families in the two West African countries escape poverty so they don’t have to rely on their children’s wages.

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