It isn’t new to anybody. Some children in Ghana are subjected to forced child labour as a result of human trafficking. The practice is seen throughout the cocoa, fishing, and mining industries, including in jobs which are quite dangerous and deemed to be hazardous. While nearly 90% are in school, 13% of children between the ages of five and fourteen are working, adding up to a nearly one million child workers.
Recently, a cooperative program between the Rainforest Alliance, International Cocoa Initiative, and Solidaridad West Africa, called ‘Yen Ne Mmofra No Nti’ was announced, with the goal of ending the systemic child labour. The program, targeted mainly at the cocoa and mining industries, is to be funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation. It expects to benefit over twelve thousand children over the course of three years. While the program will help a substantial number of children, a systemic problem could, perhaps, utilize a technological answer.
Blockchain verification allows for product authentication in a myriad of ways. It could be used to stop the flow of blood rubies or counterfeit pharmaceuticals, and, in this case, could be utilized to help close the window of opportunity for those engaging in forced child labor. In particular, tons of cocoa, from verified cocoa cooperatives, could be tracked utilizing an immutable blockchain. The information stored on that blockchain could contain information regarding the exact location and date of the harvest, the place of processing, and wholesale and retail sales. Cooperatives which were verified to be free from child labour could be certified, and their product could be tracked on the blockchain. Ultimately, the product could be marketed in a way similar to fair trade coffee beans, increasing the desirability among conscious consumers and corporations engaged in corporate social responsibility initiatives.
Utilizing AI-enhanced solutions, AI-processed images, audio, and video could be stored on the blockchain. Utilizing this method, organizations could expand supply chain verification and audits, providing proof of existence and proof of origin beyond solely the time and date of a transaction document. Utilized in conjunction with on-site visits, holographic security tape, and other security protocols, it is possible that cocoa cooperatives could begin to de-normalize child labour, enhance their own reputation, and increase the desirability of their product, all by leaning on a transformative emerging technology: the blockchain ledger.
Richard Gardner serves as the CEO of Modulus, an international financial technology firm. He has been a globally recognized subject matter expert for more than two decades, offering complex insight and analysis on cryptocurrency; cybersecurity; financial technology; surveillance technology; and blockchain technologies.
Over the past twenty years, Modulus has built technology for the world’s most notable institutions, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.