3 December, 2018

How a scoop of ice cream can make the world of difference

BJ Ice Banner
by Will Thacker

Putting up your feet and kicking back with a tub of Spice and All Things N’ice feels like a treat… a little indulgent even. But here’s the inside scoop: Fairtrade ice cream does a world of good for farming communities. Read on, and it won’t just be the gingerbread chunks warming your heart…


That delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream you’ve slipped into your shopping basket? It contains ingredients like Fairtrade-certified cocoa, vanilla, sugar, coffee and bananas. That means your cash at the till supports disadvantaged farmers in key areas like climate resilience, gender equality and working towards a living income.

As we all know, climate change is one of the most urgent challenges of all. Unpredictable weather can wreak havoc on farming communities, with problems like drought leading to low yields, or too much rain infecting cocoa trees with black pod disease. Whilst there’s no silver bullet, Fairtrade supports training for farmers so they can adapt to the hard realities of a changing climate. For the Capressa, Coopaza and Coobadi cocoa co-operatives in Côte d’Ivoire, that means protecting crops against floods, treating the trees to prevent black pod and learning to prune cocoa plants and apply fertilisers. Backed by Fairtrade Standards, the farmers receive technical guidance to improve water and soil quality, protect biodiversity, manage waste and prohibit chemicals that are damaging to health.

‘In the past there were diseases on the trees,’ explains Asso Adome of the Coopaza co-operative. ‘We were taught and given products to treat them. These have helped increase production.’

You may not realise it when you’re digging your spoon into that caramel swirl, but your support for Fairtrade helps to tackle the effects of climate change and back the people who produce the ingredients we love.

It’s a similar story when it comes to helping co-operatives to grow. Money from the Fairtrade Premium, as well as training and support from Fairtrade Africa, enables farmers to learn how to manage their money, respond to industry challenges and become effective, more resilient businesses. In the UK, Ben & Jerry’s and The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) set up the Ice Academy to support entrepreneurs who arrived as refugees. A proportion of sales from Spice & All Things N’ice – a new caramel confection where gingerbread cookies meet chocolate crunch, perfect for long dark evenings – funds an independently managed co-operative grant to get graduates started with their business ideas.

‘The combined experience of the employment and business components was beautiful,’ says Chineze, an Ice Academy graduate from 2018. ‘It helped me be more committed, find my rhythm and be more confident.’

Ice cream is loved by everyone – alright, almost everyone – and it goes without saying that the people who farm the ingredients should be treated equally. That’s why Fairtrade fights for gender equality to ensure women farmers have the same rights and opportunities as men. With Fairtrade Premium funds, women cocoa farmers like Pauline Ahi N’da at the Capressa co-operative, Côte d’Ivoire, have attended literacy classes, purchased land and paid for her children’s schooling.

‘Little by little, I will build a house,’ Pauline says, adding: ‘I am proud that women’s voices are heard within the cooperative, and that Capressa takes care of its women.’

Here’s the rub about your frozen tub. The journey to trade justice remains long, but ice cream lovers have a role to play. So the next time you’re curled up with a delicious bowl of the good stuff one winter’s evening, remember the benefits of buying Fairtrade ice cream go much further than your spoon.

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