Baseline Assessment: Mapping Working Conditions and Labor Risks in ofi’s Cocoa Supply Chain in Uganda

As part of the 2020–2021 labor standards due diligence cycle for members, the Fair Labor Association (FLA) conducted a baseline assessment of ofi (formerly Olam)’s cocoa supply chain in Uganda. The assessment examined the supply chain, stakeholders involved, and associated labor risks; the status of the company’s internal supply chain and labor management system; and the workers’ demographic profile.

The assessment was conducted with a combination of qualitative and quantitative data collection techniques. Assessors collected primary data through individual interviews, focus group discussions (FGDs), document review, and farm and household observation. FLA assessors visited four parishes in three sub-counties and interviewed 146 people in October 2021.

The FLA Code of Conduct elements with low risk of non-compliance were Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining, Harassment and Abuse, and Hours of Work. Some code elements need attention, even if assessors did not find obvious evidence of non-compliance:

  1. Forced Labor: The farmers are not using hired workers. However, the company should pay attention and follow closely the labor conditions of vulnerable groups of such as refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Refugees are at risk of physical and emotional violence.

Assessors found the following code elements to be at high risk of non-compliance:

  1. Child Labor: Through FGDs with children, the IMS report review, and observations from the farm and home visits, assessors noted child labor in the company supply chain. Children performed hazardous tasks, such as climbing cocoa trees during harvest.
  2. Employment Relationship: Twenty-one percent of farmers with contracts do not understand their contract requirements.
  3. Health, Safety and Environment (HSE): Gumboots were the only piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by 37% of the farmers interviewed. There was no first aid structure managed by the farmers themselves.
  4. Compensation: Two farmers reported instances where the full amount was not paid at once due to a cash shortage; however, they were paid within two days, and payment delays are uncommon. Four farmers reported that the issuance of receipts could sometimes be delayed for up to two weeks, or that receipts were never issued at all.