Fairmade holds the keys to helping farming communities truly thrive

As the confectionery sector continues to hold its collective breath at the ever-escalating rates of cocoa values that are causing major market disruption, one of the most interesting related developments is the emergence of the Fairmade movement.

With such a seemingly bright spotlight placed on what is an admittedly hugely important issue, it’s perhaps easy to forget that there are some other really significant related developments happening around the world that have the potential to make a significant difference.

Notably, as its creators, theĀ  MIA (Made In Africa), have explained to Confectionery Production, Fairmade really is what it says on the tin – it’s not a certification but gathering of likeminded small and medium-sized enterprises within the food sector – and particularly within chocolate and snacks, that are delivering the entire production chain at source. This matters massively, as it ensures that a far larger degree of revenues is retained at origin compared to conventional confectionery processing.

They say from small acorns, mighty oaks can be forged, and this is clearly one initiative very much with its heart in the right place, looking to shine a light on emerging and established enterprises that are simply trying to deliver a living income for farmers. As we’ve covered in depth, the comparatively high prices that cocoa is now at (as has been noted to Confectionery Production), we’re not in fact at the ‘all time 46 year price high’ that has been reported globally – the same $5000 dollar a tonne prices last seen in 1977, would in fact be worth $28,000 in today’s money – a price that literally nobody would seriously be willing to contemplate paying. Yet this is what is presently being routinely reported, which is not correct in that it doesn’t factor in four decades of inflation.

Regardless of this, paying farmers a fair income far in excess of the woefully poor $1 a day that many are still earning in Ghana and Ivory Coast (falling well below UN definitions of poverty lines), is at the heart of the matter. The usual lines of ‘it’s quite a complicated situation’ keep on being put out by industry. But is it really? The simple truth is that companies across the sector collectively need to become more used to paying more for their cocoa, if the industry is to be at all truly sustainable.

The fact that farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast did in fact gain modest pay rises within the past six months was in fact welcomed by many observers, but it’s really a drop in the ocean compared to what actually needs to happen to actually ensure that the next generation can actually consider cocoa farming at all. So here’s hoping that related solutions such as Fairmade can actually tip the difference in terms of helping communities truly thrive in the industry.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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2 responses to “Fairmade holds the keys to helping farming communities truly thrive”

  1. What is the Fairmade movement, and how does it differ from traditional certifications in the confectionery sector, particularly in terms of ensuring a more significant portion of revenues is retained at the origin in farming communities? visit us Telkom University

    • Neill Barston says:

      Thanks for the comment there – as we reported, Fairmade is not a direct certification, more of a collective of businesses sharing similar ideals based around maintaining the full chain of production of their respective products, be that chocolate, snacks or other produce, at source, rather than simply selling ingredients to be processed in Europe or elsewhere. This ensures farmers gain the most possible benefit from retaining revenues.

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