Fair Trade chocolate represents 8% of Ghana's cocoa bean production
Chocolate is a product that has recently grabbed a lot of attention in Fair Trade development. Some of the larger distributors of chocolate around the world are beginning to recognize the need for ethical sourcing in their products.
In order to understand a bit more about how Fair Trade contributes to sustainable global development, it's important to recognize how Fair Trade partnerships benefit the lives of people living in developing countries around the world.
Ghana is a country that supplies 14% of the worlds chocolate. Prior to Fair Trade in the country, farmers were typically exploited by middlemen who worked within markets that had extensive supply chains. Because farmers in the country had little or no access to these markets, these middlemen were able to pay very little for products.
In order to work past these barriers, farmers formed co-ops that helped empower them in the global market and separate themselves from the exploitive partnerships with supply-chain middlemen. As a single entity, they had bargaining power that they could take to the world market—and as a result, by dealing more directly with retailers, a greater proportion of profits goes to producers.
A single co-op in Ghana currently has almost 49,000 members from 1,124 farmer societies that in 2004, represented 8% of the countries cocoa bean production.
Aside from providing these farmers with a voice, the Fair Trade system also provides them with stability. In a world where market prices constantly fluctuate for reasons that could be geographical, political, or even social, there was never any guaranteed income for farmers. In working with the Fair Trade system however, these people are guaranteed a fair price, regardless of these market fluctuations. The money that is invested in Fair Trade then goes towards families and the communities that they live in. The money helps keep children in schools; it helps develop infrastructure in the form of social services like hospitals and road upkeep; and, it's invested back into the producers so that they can improve upon their methods of production — and improve the quality of their products.