The Hershey Company says it will invest $10 million in West Africa to reduce child labor and improve the cocoa supply, mostly in Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Spokesman Andy McCormick says the measure will bring higher productivity for farmers and will increase supply to meet the demand of a growing middle class in countries like China and India.
McCormick said that West Africa produces 70 percent of the world's cocoa.
Combined with coffee, the cocoa sector in Ivory Coast accounts for 15 percent of its GDP. Cocoa production hit a record 1.48 million tons in Ivory Coast in 2010 despite a political crisis.
UNICEF estimates 600,000 children work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and that 35,000 are victims of trafficking.
McCormick says that Hershey is already trying to address child labor issues in West Africa, "but we all recognize that more needs to be done."
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