Cameroon is one of the leading cocoa producing nations in the world and cocoa exports constitute a major source of it foreign earnings. However, this sector suffers from severe set bags and is not property regulating leading to major social, economic and financial obstacles to the famers and other agents involved. One of these worrying problems is that of child labour which is widespread and rampant. According to a report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), thousands of Cameroonian children are trafficked into cocoa plantations in Cameroon where they are forced to work as laborers or workers in small shops, bars, and households. The practice of child labor in households and fields is a tradition that sometimes masks trafficking. In some cases children as young as 7 have been reported working in cocoa plantations. A recent survey sampled children and employers in Yaounde, in Fako, and in Mbangasina, a region with large cocoa farms. The survey revealed that children from other central and West African countries are forced to work in cocoa plantations, sometimes under inhumane condition. The children suffered from malnourishment, sexual abuse and are forced to work for long hours with little pay.
• CEDCOW is working with these communities to address these and other issues affecting the lives of children and families on cocoa farms as well as help cocoa farmers improve their income and standards of living. CEDCOW will also help with measures to improve cocoa quality through technical training, stock management, fertilization methods, post-harvest investment, and training on infrastructure. As well as raise awareness and support creation and integration of cocoa co-op activities starting with local (existing) producer organizations. This cooperative buys and sells the wet cocoa beans from producers, carries out the wet bean process, and markets to economic operators (domestic or foreign).
CEDCOW will also work with experts and other stakeholders to ensure cocoa is grown responsibly, without the worst forms of child labor and forced adult labor. These efforts are part of a broader commitment to the economic and social development of cocoa farming communities, and to environmental stewardship.
Industry efforts to make a better life for children on cocoa farms and to support cocoa farming communities overall, focus on four key areas:
• Ensuring that cocoa is grown responsibly, and that children are neither harmed nor denied schooling in the process of helping out on the family farm;
• Improving the long term sustainability of cocoa growing and the economic return from cocoa for smallholder farmers growing this important crop;
• Strengthening farming communities by addressing such needs as access to quality education and training;
• Supporting efforts to protect and enhance the environment in which cocoa farmers grow their crops.
• Ecological, social and institutional sustainability.