Nestle SA will offer cocoa farmers and their families in the Ivory Coast cash incentives that aim to reduce child labor, as the chocolate industry faces growing scrutiny over the problem.
The program, under which the KitKat maker plans to spend 1.3 billion francs ($1.4 billion) by 2030, will offer as much as 500 francs per year to households that meet criteria ranging from school enrollments for children to improved agricultural practices.
The industry has faced years of criticism that it’s doing too little to eradicate child labor on cocoa farms. While companies have implemented programs to mitigate the issue and often emphasize their work with non-profit organizations, they’ve argued that root causes such as poverty need to be addressed.
The prevalence of child labor in cocoa production in the Ivory Coast and Ghana increased 14 percentage points in the decade through 2019, according to a survey by NORC at the University of Chicago, an independent social research organization. Cocoa production rose 62% in that period.
Nestle’s plan is promising because it doesn’t just focus on production metrics that some other programs impose, according to Antonie Fountain, managing director of the Voice Network, a global network of NGOs and trade unions working on sustainability in cocoa. But it’s missing an important puzzle piece, he said.
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