While the chocolate industry is valued at over $100 billion worldwide, cocoa farmers typically only earn as little as $1 per day (about 72p). Gender inequality and child labor are common issues in cocoa growing communities, driven by poverty and poor access to education. Poverty has also driven cocoa farmers to expand farms into forest areas, contributing to deforestation and climate change.
What is Fairtrade?
With so many complex issues in the cocoa supply chain, Fairtrade plays a crucial role in helping to change the industry for the better. Fairtrade is an independent, third-party certification system partnering with more than 1.5 million producers in developing countries. Fairtrade’s mission is to secure fair prices, better terms of trade, and decent working conditions for farmers and workers so they are empowered to build sustainable livelihoods and secure futures for themselves and their communities. Fairtrade social, environmental, and economic standards assure compliance in relation to production management, environmental management, human rights, safety, labor and anti-discrimination laws, as well as development of good business practices around transparency, democracy, and participation.
Divine Chocolate and Fairtrade
Ingredients are certified as Fairtrade, and end-products like chocolate can use the FAIRTRADE Mark if they meet the Fairtrade standards and licensing requirements developed to support farmers and workers. At Divine Chocolate, each and every product is certified Fairtrade and every ingredient that can be sourced as Fairtrade is Fairtrade certified. Fairtrade certified ingredients in Divine Chocolate are cocoa from Ghana, organic cocoa from São Tomé, sugar from Malawi, vanilla from Madagascar, and almonds from Pakistan. The key ingredient for chocolate is, of course, cocoa, and this issourced from Kuapa Kokoo Co-operative in Ghana with over 100,000 primarily smallholder cocoa farmers. Kuapa Kokoo was the first Fairtrade certified smallholder farmers’ organisation in West Africa.
What does Fairtrade deliver to farmers?
The Fairtrade Minimum Price acts as a safety net for farmers when market prices fall below a sustainable level. It covers the cost of sustainable production and it is established by Fairtrade through intensive consultation with producers, traders, and other stakeholders. Fairtrade is unique as it is the only certification that offers the protection of a minimum price to producers. This helps farmers plan better for the future as they know they have a stable income for what they sell on Fairtrade terms.
On top of the purchase price for the raw ingredients, producer organisations receive a Fairtrade Premium for sales on Fairtrade terms. This amount is paid directly to the producer organisation whose members decide how to best invest it to improve their community, business, or local environment. For farmers, the Fairtrade Premium can mean improving their business or productivity, helping them transition to organic production, supporting local schools and access to education, improving healthcare, investing in better housing, and much more. We believe that farmers know best what their communities need, which is why Fairtrade gives farmers and workers the ability to invest the Fairtrade Premium as they see fit.
How does Fairtrade benefit cocoa farmers of Kuapa Kokoo?
An accurate recording system: Kuapa has a strong reputation for using accurate weighing scales that are understood byfarmers who have not had an opportunity to learn how to read or write. The farmers are encouraged to check the scales against things of a known weight like a "weight stone" equivalent to a full, single sack of cocoa. These “weight stones” are carried in Kuapa Kokoo vehicles, and operations staff carry out official random checks to ensure the village recorder is using accurate scales.
Gender empowerment: Kuapa aims to enhance the active and effective participation of women in decision making throughout the organisation. Measures have been introduced to ensure a minimum number of members of various councils and committees are women. Over time, this has ensured women have more influence and make more contributions to the organisation.
Guaranteed price system: The price is what the farmers get for the sale of their cocoa beans. Producers receive a guaranteed price for their goods and the security of long-term trading contracts. The Fairtrade price is a minimum price meaning that if the world market price is lower, farmers receive the Fairtrade price. If the world market price is higher, farmers receive the higher price.
Fairtrade social premium projects: The Fairtrade premium serves like a ‘bonus’ on top of the price farmers receive for their cocoa beans. As part of Fairtrade guidelines, the co-operative must develop a plan for spending the Premium, and different projects can be voted on democratically. Kuapa Kokoo has the capability to receive input from its 100,000+ members, allowing each of them a say in where the money is needed most in their communities. As an organisation organised under co-op principles, members have their voices heard through elected representatives who are able to advocate for individual villages and districts at the national level.
Examples of projects that the Fairtrade Premiums have funded include:
- Schools built in Kuapa Kokoo farming villages
- Separate toilet facilities for men and women
- A bicycle programme, enabling children to get to and from school more quickly
- Building wells to create more access to clean water
- A radio programme for farmers, giving them access to information and resources