Fairtrade Foundation makes strides with cocoa co-operative report

One of the most prominent initiatives making headlines this week has been with Fairtrade Foundation in releasing its latest report seeking to drive major change in the cocoa industry.

The movement’s latest study seeks to help deliver best practice for farming co-operative groups, which has attempted to identify practical packages of support targeting raising living standards for those at the sharp end of the industry.

Having edited this title for over four years now, the pattern of farmers being caught in a spiral of poverty is sadly all too familiar – and the events of the pandemic have placed yet further pressure on the very communities that stand to make or break the sector.

The global movement, which will be among speakers at our World Confectionery Conference in Brussels this September to place a further spotlight on such issues, which Fairtrade, governments and civil society have all acknowledged requires collective action to drive meaningful change.

While it’s fair to say that progress does indeed seem to be being made, the sheer scale of the problem is truly immense, with a backdrop of more than 1.5 million children exposed to the worst forms of child labour, it’s an especially sobering thought.

To its credit, Fairtrade has examined how successful co-operatives are able to make a difference to their communities in Ghana – which benefits from being able to command a slightly more premium price for its cocoa than neighbouring Ivory Coast (which between them account for nearly two thirds of all bean supplies).

Among the core recommendations within its report are exploring how farming groups can become better organised in seeking the support that is still needed, as well as enabling the wider development of co-operatives, which are not typically the norm within the region, due to the fact that the industry still has a large degree of smallholder farmers working fairly modest plots of land.

As we’ve covered many times before, it is only through combined action from the likes of Fairtrade, working alongside industry and governments that real change can possibly happen within the region. One things we can all do more of around the world is be willing to pay more for our own chocolate purchases. It’s only by this pattern playing out around the world, that farming groups can truly benefit in the long-term, though clearly, immediate practical schemes on improved farming techniques, as well as enhancing infrastructure for farming communities will also prove vital amid ongoing challenges.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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