What would it cost to totally eliminate child labor from cocoa production in Ghana? An increase in cocoa price of nearly 47 percent, according to the authors of a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
The study, from three scientists at the University of Arkansas and Kansas State University in the United States, is based on data drawn from agricultural policy literature and used to develop an economic model to determine the price increase.
The worst forms of child labor could be eliminated with a 2.81 percent increase; it would take an 11.81 percent premium to remove “regular work” as well, and that’s the level the authors propose that the Ghanaian Cocoa Marketing Board should encourage. The high 46.96 percent premium would remove children from even the lightest of work tasks.
“Child labor in cocoa production is not just a symptom of poverty but also a contributing factor, as children often forgo a formal education to work in cocoa orchards,” the authors said. In 2015, just under 40 percent of children working in the cocoa sector were involved in hazardous work, often in households with small farms where the children are needed in the orchards to support the family.
“Current Ghanaian law prohibits child labor, but, with many cocoa households living in poverty, child labor becomes a necessity for survival, and as such, current child labor laws are rarely enforced,” the authors add. “Therefore, an effective policy that eliminates child labor could compensate farmers by providing an economic incentive.”
The study does not look at whether consumers would be willing to pay the higher prices, but sees opportunity for Ghanaian producers to market their cocoa as socially responsible and child labor-free.
Image: IITA Accra