Barry Callebaut, a leading cocoa processing company in Nigeria, has distributed instructional materials to over 330 children of cocoa farmers in Ondo and Cross River States under a community-based child labour protection initiative in cocoa farming communities.
The gesture, according to Mujeeb Oniyide, sustainability operations manager of the company, was part of their plan to enhance educational standards, and reduce the burden on pupils and students of cocoa farmers amid economic reality in the country.
Oniyide, who spoke during the flag-off ceremony of the school kits held at St. Williams R.C.M Primary School, St. James Caring Heart Mega Primary School and Mount Carmel R.C.M Primary School, all in Akure, the Ondo state capital, said “this is a community-centric approach that is essential to create empowered communities, supporting cocoa farmers and making lasting change for the future of the children through the human right due diligence pillar of our forever chocolate strategy.
According to him, “the back to school (kits) initiative provides quality educational items like school bags, lunch box bags, notebooks, writing materials like pen, pencil, eraser, sharper, ruler, mathematical sets, water bottles and sporting items to schools for over 330 children in 11 communities (5 communities in Ondo State and 6 communities in Cross-Rivers).
“This approach focuses on the adoption of child-centric due diligence systems in cocoa farming communities, empowering communities to protect child rights. This means early recognition of children at risk of being involved in the worst forms of child labor and action to mitigate these risks.
“Forever Chocolate is our plan to make sustainable chocolate the norm across our supply-chain. Launched in 2016, the Forever Chocolate targets for 2025 are unique in terms of ambition in the cocoa and chocolate industry.
“We have sharpened our 2025 target, committing to covering our entire supply chain with Human Rights Due Diligence. This includes the continued monitoring and remediation of child labor cases. At the same time, we are adding a target for 2030, supporting cocoa farming communities to protect child rights and prevent child labor from occurring.
“Forever Chocolate is focusing on four pillars, addressing the material challenges in the cocoa and chocolate supply chain: Prospering farmers, human rights due diligence, thriving nature and sustainable ingredients.
“Barry Callebaut Nigeria Cocoa and Chocolate is committed to make sustainable chocolate the norm by ensuring future supplies of cocoa and improving farmer livelihoods in rural settlement where cocoa are sourced and at the same time support the national economic plans for the country.
“It is our understanding that schools and children benefiting from this gesture will encourage many farmers and people living in the communities to understand importance of education, encourage their wards to attend school regularly and see the reason child labour should be totally discouraged on our cocoa farms.”
Oniyide, therefore, said “the Barry Callebaut Group is committed to sustainable cocoa production to help ensure future supplies of cocoa and improve farmer livelihoods. It supports the Cocoa Horizons Foundation in its goal to shape a sustainable cocoa and chocolate future.”