Archbishop of York calls on government and industry to pay cocoa farmers more

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Many cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60% of cocoa is grown, are living in extreme poverty, says The Fairtrade Foundation in a new report. Pic: Fairtrade
Many cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60% of cocoa is grown, are living in extreme poverty, says The Fairtrade Foundation in a new report. Pic: Fairtrade

Related tags Fair labor standards act Fairtrade Poverty Sustainability

Dr John Sentamu says it is ‘shameful and inexcusable’ that cocoa farmers are living on as little as 75p a day and backs The Fairtrade Foundation’s new report to increase living incomes in line with UN’s Global Goals to end poverty.

Fairtrade has called on the UK Government and companies to ensure cocoa farmers earn living incomes by 2030 in line with the UN’s Global Goals to end poverty.

The announcement was made in a report published by The Fairtrade Foundation today at the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight​, which runs from Monday February 25  to March 10.

Cocoa farmers working in tough conditions are struggling on as little as 75p (98c) per day, well below the world’s extreme poverty line, and yet for around £1.86 ($2.42) per day, the average price of a large bar of chocolate, farmers could live a decent life, according to the report.

Communities and businesses across the UK are backing Fairtrade Fortnight, with support from Waitrose & Partners, the Co-op,  Ben & Jerry’s, Divine Chocolate, Mars, Greggs, Starbucks and others who are all sourcing Fairtrade cocoa. Fairtrade says that by doing so they are helping farmers to sell more and with the new Minimum Price, they will benefit from a 20% increase in value.

Moral responsibility

Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of York and Fairtrade Patron, writes in the report’s foreword: “Shameful as it is inexcusable, exploitation and poverty continue to hide under the seductive packaging of our favourite chocolate. All of us have a moral responsibility to act. We all – global citizens, businesses, governments – must do more​.”

The report states that the chocolate industry is worth £4billion ($5.23bn) in the UK. Despite this many cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60% of cocoa is grown, are living in poverty and are unable to pay for essentials like food, send their children to school or buy medicine if they fall sick. Based on new research carried out by Fairtrade International and by the ISEAL Alliance, the report, “Craving change in chocolate: How to secure a living income for cocoa farmers” ​argues living incomes are key to ensuring the future sustainability of cocoa.

Minimum Price and Premium

Fairtrade has already announced that in October 2019 it is raising its Minimum Price and Premium. However, just 6% of cocoa globally is Fairtrade-certified and therefore the movement calls for collective action from the government, industry and consumers.

Fairtrade Foundation’s ‘She Deserves’ campaign also reveals women cocoa farmers carry the greatest burden and yet get the least reward. It aims to raise awareness amongst consumers of the challenges facing them. They work in the fields, look after children, do all the chores and the lion’s share of labor involved in bringing cocoa crops to market but have fewer rights than men and rarely own land, therefore get even less of the profits from cocoa.

Michael Gidney, CEO Fairtrade Foundation, said: “As a nation of chocolate lovers, it is shocking that the women who grow and harvest the cocoa that goes into our treats are barely able to put food on the table nor send their kids to school – the majority of us think the exploitation they suffer is unacceptable. We can all take action today by supporting this campaign and by putting Fairtrade chocolate in our shopping baskets​.

Everyone is entitled to a decent income, it is a human right. As a country we’ve signed up to end poverty by 2030, but that won’t happen unless people earn more for the work they do – so we’re calling on governments, businesses and the public to pledge to make living incomes a reality. Whatever happens with Brexit, our leaders must make sure trade deals put poverty reduction first. If that matters to you please sign our petition​.”

Fairtrade’s report also outlines wider problems facing farmers in West Africa, which range from deforestation to child labor. Despite huge investments in sustainability initiatives, the cocoa sector needs to change the focus, and offers a series of recommendations:

  • Join the Living Income Task Force, a new initiative being created by the German government
  • Make living incomes a priority for UK aid
  • Incorporate living income into Government Business and Human Rights policies for after all a living income is a human right. 

Fairtrade Foundation also calls on chocolate companies, traders and supermarkets to:

  • Commit to sourcing their cocoa on Fairtrade terms as a first step.
  • Commit to the goal of ensuring that cocoa farmers receive a living income by 2030.

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