How Does Fairtrade Chocolate Help Farmers
Most of the food that end up in our shopping baskets were produced by farmers who are often not paid enough for their produce. Labor shortages and extensive use of fertilizers and other chemicals for growing crops lead to poor working conditions which many people would consider as slave labor. So buying fairtrade products like organic fairtrade chocolates supports these hard working farmers in impoverished regions of the world.
The Chocolate Problem
Chocolate is one of the most popular foods in the world. Many people love eating chocolates and not just on special occasions. Some even eat a few bars of chocolates everyday. Whether that’s healthy or not is a good discussion for another day.
Majority of the cacao trees are grown on small family-owned farms. Before fairtrade, the majority of the farmers growing cacao trees were not paid enough to support their families. Many of these families rely heavily on their income from growing cacao trees. Since they barely get by with their limited income, they often neglect other aspects of their lives that are important like health and education. With rising production costs and household expenses, many of these farmers remain in poverty.
Cacao trees are sensitive crops. Farmers need to protect them from the weather elements, unwanted insects and weeds. Growing cacao trees using conventional methods involve extensive use of harmful chemicals like pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides. These chemicals pose a huge risk to human health and the environment. Exposure to these chemicals could lead to serious health conditions.
Due to poor working conditions and the high-risk low-reward nature of growing cacao trees, many young people want to stay away from this profession.
Fairtrade Is Making Things Better for Cocoa Farmers
Fairtrade wants to change things for the better. Through fairtrade, small farmers are paid fairly for their hard work so that they can live better lives. Many of the participating companies have even pledged to support local development like building low-cost houses, health clinics and schools. These endeavours definitely help make the lives of cocoa farmers and their families better.
What is also amazing about Fairtrade is the introduction of the Fairtrade minimum. Cocoa prices plummet too often. So when prices go down, so is the income of the farmers. Fairtrade minimum ensures that even if the cocoa prices go down, farmers still earn enough to provide for their families. Farmers are paid either the Fairtrade minimum or market price, whichever is higher.
Farmers are also paid a Fairtrade premium. This is an additional sum of money paid to farmers giving them extra income. The sum goes into a communal fund for the farmers and workers to invest in community projects to empower them and their communities. They can also use the funds to improve their farming practices and explore alternative farming methods that are better for their health and the environment.
With an increased income, farmers can buy proper protective gear when handling chemicals or they can avoid using them entirely. Many fairtrade companies encourage sustainable and eco-friendly ways of growing crops.
Next Up: The Benefits and Risks of Eating Chocolates