How is Fairtrade helping cocoa farmers?

The global demand for chocolate is predicted to rise by 30% by 2020, to more than 4.5m tonnes – and the industry could be facing a shortage of cocoa supplies. Around 90% of the world’s cocoa is grown on small family farms by six million farmers, who need further investment in order to increase production levels.

On average 3.5m tonnes of cocoa are produced each year. A sensitive crop, cocoa trees reach their peak in the 15th year of production and maintain this level for a decade. During all this time, farmers must protect them from wind, sun, pests and disease.

Production can also be affected by market expectations, demands and speculative buying – as well as political instability. In 2011, cocoa prices reached a 32-year high following a failed coup in Côte d’Ivore, the largest cocoa production country by volume (40%).

Most cocoa is grown in Asia (17%), Africa (68%) and Latin America (15%) – and although manufacturers and retailers’ profit shares have increased, growers in West Africa are likely to receive just 3.5% to 6.4% of the final value of a chocolate bar, compared to 16% in the 1980s.

After becoming Fairtrade certified, the Fairtrade Premium farmers receive enables them to invest in the business and community projects. At the end of 2013, around 130 small farmer organisations in 20 countries held a certificate to produce and sell Fairtrade cocoa, representing 176,600 small-scale farmers.

In 2012-2013 around 46% of Fairtrade Premium income was invested by organisations in programmes to improve productivity and quality. The premium can also be invested in schools, medical centres and clean water.

At Kuapa Kokoo, a cocoa co-op in Ghana, for example, the 85,000 farmer members have spent their premium on building wells for drinking water, public toilets and a mobile clinic to visit members’ villages. Fairtrade also provides training and support to help farmers strengthen the business.

Kuapa Kokoo owns nearly half of Divine Chocolate, a Fairtrade chocolate company, and receive a 44% share of Divine’s distributable profits. Research commissioned by Divine Chocolate shows the UK public is not necessarily correspondingly knowledgeable about where chocolate comes from and the issues facing its production. Although 65% of respondents knew that most of the world’s cocoa is grown by smallholder farmers, only 32% knew Ghana was a top producer of cocoa and only one in five was aware there could be a cocoa shortage.

Divine Chocolate MD Sophi Tranchell says:

“Cocoa farmers are not generating enough income on which to live, look after their families and invest properly in their farms.  They don’t earn enough to invest in new trees, farming training, diversification, and equipment to improve the productivity and longevity of their farms – resulting in poor yields, precarious livelihoods, and a future generation who can see little to attract them to a future in cocoa farming.

“The sustainable future of chocolate depends on farmers seeing a viable future in cocoa farming – and that means securing a reliable income for their cocoa which will cover food, education and everything they need for their families, but also enough to invest in adapting, improving and diversifying to ensure they are getting the best from their land and their trees.

“Fairtrade certification is key because it focuses on the farmer and on fairer remuneration – and it encourages farmers to organise so that together they can also use their additional income to make communal improvements that benefit everybody. We also believe it is important for farmers to be given greater status and to be able to determine their own futures, invest in their own farms and help their communities to thrive, rather than be dependent on investment from outside over which they have no control. Our vision is a world where chocolate is cherished and celebrated by everyone.”

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