Boris Johnson Urged To Back Decent Incomes For Cocoa Farmers

More than 50,000 people have signed a Fairtrade petition calling for Boris Johnson to make living incomes a priority for UK-funded aid projects.

A typical Ivorian cocoa farmer like Salimata Diakete lives in extreme poverty and earns on average just 75p a day, less than half of what is needed to achieve a decent standard of living. Yet for around £1.86 per day, the average price of a large bar of chocolate, farmers could live a decent life. 

On Ivorian Independence Day (7 August), Fairtrade campaigners from around the UK join Fairtrade Foundation staff including Director of Public Engagement, Julia Nicoara, at 10 Downing Street to hand in the petition and ask the new PM to back cocoa farmers fighting for a fairer deal.

The Fairtrade Foundation also shares a video message from Awa Traore, an Ivorian cocoa farmer, to thank supporters and tell the PM why this is so important.

Unfair cocoa prices are leaving many families struggling to afford the basics such as education for their children, medical treatment when they are ill and even access to safe water. Fairtrade says this isn’t right, and living incomes are key to ensure the future sustainability of cocoa.

Adam Gardner, Head of Campaigns at the Fairtrade Foundation said: “Fairtrade believes a critical factor to eliminate extreme poverty is to pay farmers a fair price for their cocoa, but we can’t do it by ourselves. The Government should support a global initiative of governments and business to enable living incomes in supply chains, starting with cocoa.”

Fairtrade conducted a study of 3,000 Ivorian Fairtrade cocoa farming households which identified 58 percent were living in extreme poverty. That’s why, after extensive consultation, Fairtrade determined the farm gate price needed to enable living incomes and announced last autumn that it would lead the way on living incomes by increasing the Minimum Price and Premium that farmers receive for their cocoa by 20 percent in October 2019. However, just 6% of cocoa globally is Fairtrade-certified and therefore the movement calls for collective action from the government, industry and consumers. 

The Fairtrade Foundation’s three-year campaign She Deserves a Living Income was launched in February and calls on the UK Government and companies to ensure cocoa farmers earn living incomes by 2030 in line with the UN’s Global Goals to end poverty. 

Adam continued: “We want DFID to put achieving living incomes and wages at the heart of its Economic Development strategy, supporting programmes and businesses that take living income seriously. What’s more, the Government should recognise that enabling living incomes, and the payment of fair prices, are central to the realisation of human rights in UK supply chains, and integrate this recognition into policy.”

Last month, the Ivorian Government and Ghanaian governments, the worlds’ top two cocoa growing countries, teamed up to propose an additional payment of $400 per tonne that companies will have to pay on top of the market price, if they want to buy beans from either country.

Tom Hunt, eco chef and Fairtrade ambassador who backed the campaign during Fairtrade Fortnight in February said: “The ambitious goals and targets to end poverty, support small-scale farmers and decent work for all enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goals will not be met unless urgent action is taken to support farmers in some of the poorest parts of the world. 

“Every signature on this petition sends a very strong message to the new Prime Minister that we don’t want exploitation in our chocolate and that much more needs to be done by the UK Government, and quickly.”