By Olaolu Olusina
For seven years, the world was fooled. Promises of great expectations by an industry that thrives on the sweat of poor African kid labourers have amounted to nothing. Reports of recent investigations have also indicated that the self-acclaimed and much flaunted efforts by the multi-billion dollar cocoa industry are simply a ruse...
It would be recalled that intense media exposure of child and forced labour in West Africa which supplies 70 per cent of the world cocoa, with 40 per cent of that coming from Cote d'Ivoire, had led to the intervention of the American Congress in 2001. Americans, no doubt, love chocolate to a fault, but were not ready to continue consuming what is regarded as 'blood chocolate'. They had therefore set in motion a move that would ensure that chocolate was produced from cocoa that are free of child slavery.
Named after US Senator Tom Harkin and Representative Elliot Engel who championed the original legislation and later spearheaded talks with the Chocolate Manufacturers Association and the World Cocoa Foundation, the Harkin-Engel Protocol was envisioned as a self-policing policy to better identify and address abusive child labour practices in the cocoa-growing areas of West Africa. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Union of Food and Allied Workers (IUF), the anti-slavery group, 'Free the Slaves' and the National Consumers League (NCL) were initial members of an advisory group that participated in the agreement.