Of cocoa farmers, chocolate with an easy conscience and bank employees

Posted on Posted in Stories

Poverty being a big issue in African countries has been long known. But did you also know that we are creating a real alternative with our fairafric chocolate that goes far beyond classic fair trade? This exceptional and very fair way of working has led to some very surprising results!

Child labor on cocoa plantains? Wida laughs and her light teeth clearly stand out from her dark skin. She is a cocoa farmer and produces organic cocoa beans for fairafric. “My son is a bank employee”, she tells us. “He earns so much he would never come up with the idea of helping his mother on her farm!”

For our very fair chocolate, we cooperate with small farmers like Wida who with a lot of love and know-how grows the cocoa beans from which we then make your favorite chocolate. But what does it actually mean to be a small farmer?

 

Usually, the life of an African small farmer looks like this: A farmer couple has between six and eight children and cultivates practically everything the family gets to eat themselves. It is normal for the children to help on the farm since the means to receive further education needed for a future employment are usually lacking. The family lives in small clay huts with no running water. Fresh water can be picked up from the village’s well ­– if there is one ­– or from rivers.

A bathroom with a shower is a luxury that cannot be found in the simple huts of normal small farmers. When the family wants to clean themselves, they do it with a bucket full of water. There’s also no toilet in the house; sometimes there are so-called community toilets (outhouses) in the village, and otherwise there’s the bush on the outskirts of the village.

To change this reality and to offer the people that work for us a real alternative, we work towards reaching new fair trade heights: Our goal is to remarkably increase the life quality of the small farmers and their children.

Classic fair trade manages this only partially because even though (African) producers receive more money in the fair trade system, a resulting salary raise of 8% on average is still not much (here you can find an exact listing of what comprises these 8%).

It’s a starting point, but it won’t help countries like Ghana out of poverty. That’s why we are going one decisive step further and work with bonusses to enable the small farmers that grow cocoa for us more money and thus a better life.

Through organic cultivation and its resulting quality, we are able to pay an average bonus of $600 per ton of cocoa beans, which is an enormous amount! A big part of the money goes directly into trainings and certificates for the cocoa farmers, so that they can educate themselves further.

These trainings have two big advantages: If cocoa beans come from trained farmers, the beans pass the quality controls of COCOBOD and will approved. The even bigger advantage is that the trained farmers can increase their harvest measurably.

Before our training, the farmers for the most part didn’t receive any education on how to cultivate a farm properly; with the new knowledge many things go more smoothly and effectively. Driven by these successes, many of the small farmers then expand their farms as they realize they earn good money from it.

And the remaining part of the bonus? That we give our farmers directly and in cash. With us, that is 45 cedis per sack, with classic fair trade it is 5 cedis for the same amount of cocoa beans. We were curious about the results, which is why we visited a couple of the small farmers and asked them what they do with the extra money.

While hearing their answers, the order in which the money is used became clear:

- School money for the children (education is very expensive in Ghana)
- Cooking (Pots, plates (there is no cutlery as people in Ghana eat with their hands)
- Salt, sugar
- Fee for mills (which grind palm oil seeds into the highly important palm oil)
- Hygiene products

And if there’s still some money left, it goes into “luxury” like:

- Telecommunication (mostly old phones without internet)
- Mobility (to visit relatives and friends)
- Expanding the house or building a new one for one of the children

 

We think that these sound like wonderful success stories that help diligent people to achieve real life quality. Wida also thinks that. She is the previously mentioned small farmer who with our bonusses managed to have two of her sons study in university. One of them became a teacher, the other one a bank employee. They would never think about helping her on the farm because they earn sufficiently. Wida is visibly proud of that. And we are, too.