Environmental Effects: In recent years the demand for chocolate has dramatically increased. The cocoa farmers are struggling to match the increasing demand for chocolate and therefore have turned to less environmentally friendly practices to meet these demands.
Some farmers have moved their crops into direct sunlight and out of the shade. In turn, the cocoa trees with no shade tend to accumulate more weeds as well as some diseases. When the crops begin to accumulate weeds and pests, farmers use large amounts of herbicides to get rid of these pests. However, these herbicides are causing damage to the land and health of the people spraying the chemical as well as damaging the cocoa beans crops. Cocoa farming is also contributing to deforestation in rainforests around the world.
Slavery and Child Labour: Not many people may know that there is a secret ingredient in the production of chocolate, an ingredient that has no taste – slavery and child labour. As the demand for cheap cocoa has increased so has the demand for physical labour on the cocoa farms. Today, cocoa farmers barely make a living selling the beans and have often resorted to child labour in order to keep their prices competitive. Children between the ages of 12 and 16 have been recorded working on the farms. Some of these children find themselves on the cocoa farms because they need work and are told the pay is good. Other children are ‘sold’ by relatives to traffickers or farm owners. Unfortunately most of these relatives don’t realise that these children will be exposed to an unsafe working environment such as the use of hazardous equipment and dangerous chemicals, will not have adequate food, water and housing conditions and will be deprived of an education once arriving on the farms. Sadly, the children working on these farms have very little hope of breaking the cycle of poverty.