"So tell me," an old school friend asked, "if the demand for chocolate is so high, why are cocoa farmers so poor?"
We were sitting in the local pub, just days after I returned from a trip to the Ivory Coast, filming a CNN documentary about child labor and poverty in the chocolate industry.
Two years after CNN's Freedom Project exposed Chocolate's Child Slaves, it was time to return to the cocoa plantations to unwrap the chocolate supply chain, to investigate what progress has been made to stop child labor and to explore how farmers can get more money for their beans.
Chocolate is the "food of the gods,” a sweet treat for many across the world, and a booming industry worth an estimated $110 billion a year. But as we unwrap a favorite bar or tuck into a truffle, how many of us take the time to think about where it came from, and who helped in its transformation from the humble cocoa bean?
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Editor's Note: Anti-trafficking expert Siddharth Kara is the author of “Bonded Labor: Tackling the System of Slavery in South Asia,” providing the first comprehensive overview of bonded labor in South Asia.
In the third chapter of my new book on bonded labour, I explore the shrimp industry of Bangladesh. Chingri (shrimp) harvesting provides a highly illustrative case study of the very powerful ways in which environmental change can directly contribute to human trafficking, debt bondage, and forced labor exploitation, especially in the far reaches of the developing world.
To research the shrimp industry of Bangladesh requires a journey to the cyclone-wracked southwestern reaches of the country.
Here, one finds four stages to Bangladesh’s shrimp industry supply chain: 1 shrimp fry (baby shrimp) collection, shrimp farming, the distribution to processors, and shrimp processing. Each one of these stages is tainted by some form of severe labor exploitation.