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Switch to Fairtrade to show your support for cocoa farmers

The climate crisis is a huge challenge for cocoa farmers. Find out how you can support them through prayer and action.

Written by Agnes McGrane | 02 Jul 2021

Credit: Ligue Pour la Lecture de la Bible-Côte d’ivoire/Tearfund

Chocolate is one of the world’s most popular treats, with the chocolate industry worth nearly £4 billion in the UK alone. Meanwhile, cocoa farmers are struggling to survive on a daily wage that is less than the price of a chocolate bar. Now, they face another challenge: the climate crisis.

The climate crisis means higher temperatures, more unpredictable rainfall, and new crop-threatening diseases and pests, all which make it harder to grow cocoa.

Tearfund and our local partners have been working with more than 900 farmers in Ivory Coast to help them to increase their cocoa production and get a fair price for their product.

Overcoming drought and pursuing dreams

Drissa was struggling to grow his cocoa crops because of increasing periods of drought. He had almost given up hope, but then he was invited to a training course run by our local partner. They taught him how to make compost to use as a fertiliser to protect his crops during dry seasons.

‘The leaves of the cocoa trees to which I applied compost came back to life and during the drought the leaves of the cocoa trees remained always green and dense,’ says Drissa. ‘I thank God for giving me back my smile through Tearfund and their local partner.’

As well as helping farmers adapt to changing weather conditions, our local partner also teaches cocoa farmers to grow new crops for food or extra income. This means that farmers are less likely to go without if one crop fails.

Thanks to the training by our local partner, Frédéric now grows rice and aubergines, as well as cocoa. This means he is able to provide for his family | Credit: Ligue Pour la Lecture de la Bible-Côte d’ivoire/Tearfund

When Frédéric, another farmer supported by our partner, started growing different kinds of crops, he was not only able to provide for his family but also able to start pursuing his long-term dreams.

‘In addition to the fact that food is available in my household, the income now enables me to cover the expenses related to my fields, for school, health, and so on,’ shares Frédéric. ‘And above all, it enables me to save money to complete my family house.’

A fair price

Tearfund encourages the farmers we work with to sell their produce to Fairtrade co-operatives, so that they will get a fair price for their labour and goods. This prevents them from being exploited by big corporations and helps them to escape poverty.

Fairtrade doesn’t just benefit farmers, but entire communities. The Fairtrade Premium is an additional sum of money paid by buyers, which goes into a communal fund for farmers. They decide together how to spend this money – for example, investing in health and education for the whole community.

Show your support

As the climate crisis intensifies, let us remember to keep farmers in our prayers. We can also support them by switching to Fairtrade chocolate.

When you buy Fairtrade, you know that the farmer was paid a fair price for their work and that forced labour has not been used. You are also sending a message to businesses that fair pay matters. It may seem like a small thing, but it can make a big difference to farmers like Drissa and Frédéric.

Pray with us

Try this prayer activity when you are next enjoying your Fairtrade chocolate.

First, thank God for your delicious chocolate bar, and for all the people who helped to produce it.

As you’re eating the chocolate, pray for the farmers who grew the cocoa beans. You may not know their names or their stories, but God does. Spend some time praying for them and their families.

After you’ve finished your chocolate, ask God what next steps you could take to support people in poverty, especially those who are not currently being paid fairly for their work.

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Written by  Agnes McGrane

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