Fairtrade chocolate: a story of cocoa farmers

March 21, 2018 6:40 am Published by Leave your thoughts

There are six million people globally who depend on growing chocolate for their livelihoods. Chocolate – or rather, cacao trees – can only be grown in a very narrow ‘belt’, up to 20 degrees latitude north and south of the Equator. The Chocolate Belt regions are an especially impoverished area of the world – but the work of the Fairtrade Foundation in buying chocolate at a fair price has revolutionised lives there. Currently, almost 180,000 smallholder cocoa farmers benefit from the Fairtrade mechanism.

The Fairtrade Foundation aims to make trade in crops like chocolate much fairer.

Growing cocoa seedlings is hard work – and not always fair.

Cote d’Ivoire is one of the top Fairtrade cocoa-selling countries. We thought we’d have a look at just how the Fairtrade mechanism has improved the lives of a particular set of cocoa farmers there.

These farmers are from the ECOOKIM co-operative, which was set up in 2004. You can watch a video about them here.

Fairtrade farming with the ECOOKIM co-operative

Cocoa-farming is hard, manual work. The beans are harvested by hand, then dried and processed in various ways, to make them ready for sale. Previously, children were heavily involved in the production processes – this stopped under the Fairtrade mechanism, with advice being given on working co-operatively to improve productivity instead.

The Fairtrade Foundation gave training too, on matters such as the use of fertilisers and mechanisation. The co-operative’s harvest went from 200kg per hectare to 1 metric ton per hectare, as the improvements were put into practice. The beans produced were of higher quality too, enabling them to be sold for more money.

The price given for the cacao beans was set at a fair level and was guaranteed, enabling the farmers to plan and invest in future crops. More money was received by the co-operative and was then ploughed back into the business.

ECOOKIM children, freed from labour, were able to attend school. Thanks to the Fairtrade premium, two new schools were built in the area. The prospects of children in the area are now greater, as are those of the local women, whom the Fairtrade Foundation particularly wish to help. Overall, there’s a greater sense of hope in the community: ‘empowerment’ was one of the words used by a farmer to explain how the local population feels.

The Fairtrade premium helps everyone in the community.

Holding their future in their own hands: Fairtrade empowers communities

The ECOOKIM video ends with a Fairtrade representative explaining how those of us in the West can make a real difference. It’s time, he says, to get rid of the mentality that ‘tight is right’. It’s time to stop looking endlessly for bargains, and instead see our shopping choices as the powerful weapons they really are.

Click here to see all the chocolate, including Fairtrade varieties, stocked by Naturally Good Food.

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This post was written by Yzanne

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