Mighty Earth COVID-19 response for Cocoa Farmers

Mighty Earth and the other NGO members of the VOICE Network – a civil society coalition fighting for sustainable chocolate worldwide – are deeply concerned about the effects of COVID-19 on cocoa farming households, a group already in a vulnerable position.

Our immediate concern is for the health and wellbeing of members of cocoa farming households. We are equally concerned about the direct economic impact this global crisis will have on families, who live already well below a living income. Most cocoa farmers earn under $1 per day, which is a major reason why millions of children slave away in cocoa as child labor. This dire poverty also feeds into the catastrophic deforestation that characterizes most cocoa farming, making chocolate a major global driver of forest destruction, especially in West Africa.

During the 2016 price crash, the cocoa and chocolate industry made strong profits while farmers and producing governments lost billions of dollars. Cocoa and chocolate companies did virtually nothing then to support their farmers. This cannot happen again.

Today, we release a Call to Action to the cocoa and chocolate industry to do everything within their means to help protect their cocoa farmers. We offer four key emergency considerations from the chocolate and cocoa industry which play into their role and responsibility, and mirrors responses we see in their employee care in consuming countries.

  1. Cease all non-essential farm visits
  2. Support communication to farming communities on health messaging
  3. Use existing supply chain mechanisms for provisioning farming communities
  4. Set up an emergency relief fund commensurate to the challenge

Our full paper can be read here.

Mighty Earth calls on the United States, the European Union, and Switzerland, to ensure that any bailout or stimulus package that covers chocolate companies, must hold these corporations to account. Any portion of a bailout must be conditional on traceability, transparency, protecting vulnerable farmers from Covid19, paying farmers a living wage, ending child labor, ending the use of hazardous pesticides which poison kids and other vulnerable people and puts them more at risk of respiratory ailments for Covid19. We ask that bailouts deny “Covid profiteering,” insist on deforestation-free and earth-friendly cocoa, and enshrine the principle of “OneHealth” in recognition that the health of the planet and people are intertwined.