Here’s another Valentine’s Day post from our friends at Divine Chocolate.
I just returned from Ghana where Divine Chocolate held its February board meeting. Whenever I make this trip, I’m always struck by the difference between what chocolate means to a cocoa farmer—and what it means to the rest of us.
On Valentine’s Day, chocolate is more than just a sign of affection. Chocolate helps us celebrate our best human trait—our capacity to love others.
But what does chocolate mean to a cocoa farmer in Ghana? If they’re a member of Kuapa Kokoo (the fair trade farmers cooperative that co-owns the Divine Chocolate brand), chocolate means no cheating.
It means not being cheated by cocoa buyers and traders, as cooperative members are well-versed in their rights as farmers.
It means not being cheated out of a better life and a brighter future. As the very first Fair Trade cocoa cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo has worked hard to not only better the lives of other farmers, but to strengthen other sectors as well—schools, health care, training programs, water.
It means not being cheated out of their say in the chocolate market. Since the farmers of Kuapa own their own brand, they can tell chocolate lovers about their hard work, their pride, their struggles, their triumphs. They can also articulate why trade terms are unfair and help mobilize the community to bring about change.
You may have noticed a lot of buzz in recent months with big brands offering more Fair Trade products, including Cadbury, Nestle and Green & Blacks. This is great news and should be celebrated. But so much more needs to be done. Smallholder cocoa farmers are still very poor in a very rich industry. Dignity, equality and fair partnerships with consumers and businesses must also be a priority. So let’s not just support ethical products, but businesses with ethical missions and a commitment to farmer empowerment, too.
-Erin Gorman, Divine Chocolate USA