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U.S. Government Holds Forum on Cocoa Farming Labor Issues in West Africa

U.S. Government Holds Forum on Cocoa Farming Labor Issues in West Africa

Published 10-06-06

Submitted by World Cocoa Foundation

WASHINGTON, DC- Experts focused on improving labor practices on West African cocoa farms gathered on Tuesday, October 3rd, at a unique, first-ever forum, led by the United States Department of State and United States Department of Labor.

The forum, "Cocoa Labor Issues in West Africa," was organized by the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of International Labor Affairs and the State Department's Bureau of African Affairs. The meeting brought together government, industry, non-governmental organization (NGO) and individual experts committed to encouraging responsible labor practices in cocoa farming.

Seventy percent of the world's cocoa comes from the more than two million small, family owned farms that make up West Africa's cocoa sector. The U.S. Government event provided a forum to exchange information on efforts underway to ensure cocoa is grown responsibly, and to address broader, related issues affecting cocoa farmers and the farming community.

Assistant Secretary Barry Lowenkron, head of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, opened the meeting and noted, "The Bush Administration is deeply committed to forging partnerships with the corporate cocoa community, other governments, and NGOs to put an end to child labor in this industry. We must ensure that children do not suffer bitter exploitation to produce the chocolate that we enjoy."

Participants discussed the impact of a number of industry-supported programs for such critical issues as farmer incomes, access to education, and awareness of safe, responsible labor practices. They also reviewed progress in the implementation of a "certification" system for cocoa farming labor practices - an unprecedented undertaking.

Experts representing the governments of Ghana and the Cote d'Ivoire joined representatives from the State Department, Department of Labor, United States Agency for International Development, International Labour Organization, International Cocoa Initiative and other key stakeholders.

"Building stronger cocoa communities and addressing labor issues requires the broad, ongoing engagement of a wide range of stakeholders," said Bill Guyton, president, World Cocoa Foundation. "With the State Department's leadership, these efforts have taken an important step forward - by bringing together many of the groups whose involvement is essential."

World Cocoa Foundation

Established in 2000, the World Cocoa Foundation plays a leading role in strengthening the partnership between industry and cocoa farmer. Through its nearly 60 member companies, the WCF supports a range of economic, social and environmental programs in cocoa communities in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.

For additional information on cocoa farming and programs helping rural families around the world that depend upon this important crop for their livelihood, please visit

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World Cocoa Foundation

World Cocoa Foundation

The World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) is an international nonprofit membership foundation that promotes a sustainable cocoa economy by providing cocoa farmers with the tools they need to grow more and better cocoa, market it successfully, and make greater profits. WCF's membership includes more than 90 cocoa and chocolate manufacturers, processors, supply chain managers, and other companies worldwide. Member companies range in size from small and medium size firms to large international corporations and represent over 80% of the global cocoa market. For more information, visit

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