Next week sees the start of the long Easter weekend, and however you celebrate it, there’s bound to be a bit of chocolate involved at some point!
Sadly, the farmers who grow the cocoa in most of the Easter eggs we consume in the UK earn on average US$1 per day, which doesn’t cover their or their families’ basic needs. Cocoa farmers are also struggling with the real and immediate threat of climate change causing crop failure, which is particularly unfair because farmers in the countries that produce cocoa, such as Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana, have contributed least, globally, to the climate crisis. And the age of the average cocoa farmer is now over 50, because cocoa farming cannot attract the younger generation as the benefits are so poor.
However by choosing to buy fairtrade chocolate, you’re supporting cocoa farmers to earn a living income and supporting environmentally friendly farming. Sales of fairtrade cocoa include a Fairtrade Premium for farmers to invest in their businesses or local community which includes programmes to improve productivity and quality as well as community programmes such as schools, medical centres and clean running water.
“We have been able to build a school, accommodation for the teachers of the school, we have renovated the hospital, we have given an ambulance to the hospital, all of this with the fairtrade premium. And we have a project to build the headquarters the the co-operative deserves by the end of the year. Without fairtrade we wouldn’t be in this position.”Bengaly Bourama, Secretary General of the Coobadi Co-operative in Cote D’Ivoire (quote taken from Fairtrade.org.uk)
And at the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana, which has a 45% stake in Divine Chocolate – purveyors of some of the most delicious chocolate on our shelves – the premium has been spent on building wells for drinking water, building public toilets, and a mobile clinic to visit member’s villages. They have also invested in training in leadership and management and set up other ways for women especially to earn more money, making soap and palm oil, milling corn and breeding snails.
In addition to the Premium, fairtrade provides essential training and support to farmer organisations to help them become successful business organisations. In Côte d’Ivoire for example, fairtrade undertook training workshops so farmers know how to negotiate their contracts with traders and get a better deal for their members.
So for an even sweeter Easter, choose fairtrade chocolate, and help support the six million people who depend on growing cocoa for their livelihoods.