Fairtrade Fortnight 2020
Fairtrade Fortnight 2020 (24th February – 8th March)
IChooseFairtrade – SheDeservesBetter!
Fairtrade Fortnight is on Monday 24 February – Sunday 8 March 2020.
This year’s focus will be on cocoa, our mission continues to ensure that all farmers are paid fairly for
their work and are able to earn a living income. Looking at the special role women farmers’ play in
the chocolate journey, people like Deborah Osei-Mensah who will be in Ireland for Fairtrade
Fortnight 2020 from the Asunafo Coop in Ghana.
Deborah says of growing up in a cocoa growing region;
‘Growing up as a child, I had always seen cocoa farming as a worse form of punishment. This was
because, as children we were always carrying fermented cocoa beans from the farm over long
distances to the house for drying or gathering the harvested pods sometimes making us late for
school. I also witnessed the methods of farming which leaves not much to be desired’
Further education and training however persuaded Deborah to become a cocoa farmer herself and
she is now also the Livelihoods Officer with her cooperative Union, Asunafo North which has 116
‘My current position as a producer (farmer) and also serving as the IMS and the Livelihood Officer of
the Asunafo North Union has afforded me the opportunity to train other producers (farmers) in
Good Agricultural Practices, Fairtrade principles, artificial pollination of cocoa among others. I have
also received training in soap making (precisely, the African black soap commonly called ‘alata
samina’) using material made from cocoa husks, a skill I am currently generating to bring additional
income. I have been imparting this knowledge to other women since 2016 to support them to
diversify their income sources.’
This Fairtrade Fortnight we are asking supporters to help Deborah and colleagues she works with,
and millions of other cocoa farmers to have a decent income, a living income – She Deserves Better!
So, what’s wrong with our chocolate?
[After all, we love chocolate in Ireland! We consumed about 7.7kgs of chocolate per person in 2017
(Euromonitor International) which makes us 3rd in the chocoholic rankings in Europe, just behind
Austria and Switzerland, the largest chocolate consumers.]
Dark Chocolate History
In Ireland we know a little about the difficult conditions for coffee and banana farmers and workers.
What do we know about cocoa farmers?
The cocoa tree, Theobroma cacao, originated in South America, and its beans consumed as a drink
by the Mayans and Aztecs. It was introduced to Spain by Hernan Cortés in 1528. After the addition of
sugar, the drink became popular and Spain set up cocoa plantations in its West Indies colonies to
meet demand. In the late 17th century, as cocoa drinking spread across Europe, French, English, and
Dutch plantations were also established in the West Indies and South America. As with other
colonial plantations in the ‘New World’, the production in these plantations used slaves from West
Now, the average cocoa farmer in Ghana earns about US$1 a day and in the Ivory Coast less than
US$1 a day. The World Bank extreme poverty level is US$1.90 a day!
These continuing low prices being paid to millions of farmers ensure grinding poverty for them and
the additional millions of workers involved in cocoa production. Low prices also contribute to the
ongoing deforestation of natural rainforest as small farmers try to increase production and income
by cutting down more and more trees.
A sustainable future of chocolate?
Highlighting these problems shows only the dark side of chocolate. There are good things happening
too. And 2019/2020 may yet prove to be the watershed period for cocoa farmers. Governments in
the Ivory Coast and Ghana have brought in new mechanisms for trying to ensure better prices for
cocoa farmers; and increasingly Governments in consuming countries are being asked to legislate on
issues like child labour and slavery in cocoa supply chains.
Then there is the work being done by countless individuals, many companies, and by NGOs to try
and ensure cocoa farmers begin to enjoy decent incomes – living incomes.
Join us in our annual campaign to bring the fight for change. Event resources will be available to
order in January 2020.
Check Back here for more updates!
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