Fair Trade

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It occurs spontaneously (although scientists are learning to predict El Ni o using satellite imaging) every four to five years on the Central-South American coast. El Nii?? o often effects Belize and it has ruined plantations of cacao, which, as we know, are quite un-resistant to temperature changes and adverse weather conditions. This can render cocoa growers penniless for up to six months. El Nii?? o is just one example of many uncontrollable forces that can effect cocoa farmers’ lives. Chocolate MNCs can make a one very significant change that will effect the plantation owners, perhaps even the workers, way of life.

Fair Trade, in regards to cocoa, is an organisation that encourages companies to follow certain standards so they can label their products as Fair Trade. In the Fair Trade a system a social premium is pain on top of a minimum price for cocoa beans which are bought from farmer cooperatives such as Kuapa Kokoo, Conacado Cooperative and the Toledo Cocoa Growers Association. The premium (around $150 per tonne above the minimum or world market price, whichever is greater) goes into a social development fund run by the cooperative.

This fund will improve conditions in surrounding settlements such as education or water supply. It also provides financial support for farmers who are under the threat of losing their plantation because of low income or those who wish to improve their plantation via loan programs such as Kuapa’s Credit Union. There are many cooperative farms that run under this basis and there are many chocolate manufacturers that purchase off them. Kuapa Kokoo is a large organisation and numbers over 35,000 members, according to MNC Cadburys they are in partnership with each other; working on a social improvement program.

Yet Cadburys does not pay Fair Trade prices for its cocoa nor does it offer Fair Trade chocolate to its consumers, in fact Cadburys condemns the process of Fair Trade, stating that a universal adoption would result in a world surplus of cocoa and the market would collapse. Not one chocolate MNC provides adheres to Fair Trade, whereas many smaller scale companies such as Green & Blacks, Traidcraft, Equal Exchange and the Day Chocolate Company have adopted Fair Trade. The problem is that the products these companies provide are extremely difficult to get hold of and aren’t widely produced or distributed.

Now to address the statement, I think we can conclude that by purchasing and eating chocolate, however little and whoever from, we are helping the people of the third world. Chocolate contains cocoa, cocoa can only be produced in equatorial countries, equatorial countries are all LEDCs, LEDCs are considered the ‘third world’ and chocolate companies have to buy this cocoa from the growers to supply the chocolate we are demanding. So by purchasing and eating any chocolate we are sustaining the demand for chocolate and consequently cocoa and thereby giving money, however little, to the third world which feeds them.

I think analysing the statement “If you want to feed the people of the third world eat only Fair Trade chocolate” I think this represents the second approach to the situation, boycotting chocolate MNCs such as Cadburys and only buying Fair Trade chocolate in order to: 1. Increase the cocoa growers income and hence their standard of living and quality of life while also increasing the surrounding environment for all inhabitants of the Fair Trade cooperative settlements. 2. Create an incentive for chocolate MNCs to provide Fair Trade products and act respecting Fair Trade policies due to lack of demand for their chocolate.

So while it is correct to say that by eating chocolate we are aiding the people of the third world, it would be better to eat Fair Trade chocolate because it will help them more. By the sustenance of the current chocolate market the chocolate MNCs will flourish and be wealthy because they are taking lots of revenue due to the low cocoa prices. The large cocoa plantation owners who are in long term business directly with the manufacturers will be wealthy because they are not paying their workers much and they sell large amounts of cocoa on a long term contract.

The government districts that buy cocoa from Ghanaian farmers will be wealthy because they cheat the small-scale cocoa growers. The small-scale chocolate producers will remain insignificant and their produce widely unavailable. The small-scale growers will live in poverty because they are cheated by the government buyers or because of the internationally low prices for cocoa or because of the inconsistent purchasing from their buyers. The cocoa plantation workers will live in poverty because the plantation owners do not pay them enough and there is no minimum wage.

The other people in the LEDCs will live in poverty whether you sustain the current chocolate market or not and the consumers in the UK and other MEDCs will be happy because they are eating chocolate that is releasing endorphins and dopamine and have a high standard of living. By the growth and sustenance of the Fair Trade chocolate market the chocolate MNCs will still flourish but earn a little less because they are cleaning the blemishes from their conscience and paying fair prices for their cocoa.

The wealthy, large cocoa plantation owners will be able to join cooperatives and get better prices for their cocoa because of the minimum price and also live in a better area due to the social development fund from the premium. The wealthy government districts will deteriorate and perish, they were a cheating middleman and there is no longer any need for them because the small-scale cocoa producers have joined cooperatives that deal directly with the manufacturers.

The small-scale chocolate companies will flourish and become Fair Trade MNCs because their goods will be widely distributed and more renowned as Fair Trade. The small-scale cocoa producers will have an increase in their income and a better standard of living because they will have Fair Trade customers who will buy as much as they produce which will also increase because they have higher yields due to pesticides, etc.

The cocoa plantation workers lives will improve because they have an increase in income and their settlements, like the small-scale cocoa growers’, are developing because of the minimum Fair Trade wage and social development fund. The other people in the LEDCs will have an increase in their standard of living due to the social development plan and the consumers in the UK and other MEDCs will be even happier because there is a higher amount of better quality cocoa in the chocolate they are eating resulting in the release of even more endorphins and dopamine and they still have a high standard of living.

Maybe Cadburys are right and the second option could create a surplus of cocoa causing a collapse in the global market and catastrophic consequences to all the people in the equatorial LEDCs, but then maybe they are wrong and it won’t. Personally I think it’s worth risking it if there is any chance of reducing any of the poverty that over 1. 5 billion people suffer in this world, poverty which, incidentally, could be completely eliminated by the combined financial power of the worlds seven richest men.

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