Ghana fights back over cocoa

in June 14th, 2021

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How do you actually create equality? France believes one way is ensuring equal funding opportunities for all. The city of Lyon (following the lead of many smaller French cities) has adopted a gendered budget. This means non-neutral funds are spent equally on services and programs for men and women — which is especially important in the midst of inequalities worsened by the pandemic, such as mothers disproportionately burdened by parenting duties or female workers overrepresented in sectors hit by job losses. Though novel in France, the concept itself isn’t new: Australia was the first to experiment with a women’s budget in 1984 while San Francisco passed a gender-sensitive budget in 1998.


Ghana fights for a taste of their own cocoa

Wed Jun 2

Ghana produces a fifth of global cocoa exports, and yet, most local farmers have never even tasted the chocolate bars made from their hard work. Even worse? They continue to live in poverty despite a growing demand for chocolate. Of the $130 billion global chocolate industry, less than $2 billion ends up in Ghana with farmers getting at most seven percent. 

Instead, more than 80% of profits go to companies in Europe and the U.S. who make, sell, and market the chocolate, leaving just a dollar a day for the farmers. With the extreme poverty line at $1.90, many farmers are left with no choice but to employ their own children. In fact, there’s an estimated 1.56 million children — some as young as five-years-old — engaged in hazardous work on cocoa farms in West Africa. Currently, two cases are in the U.S. Supreme Court alleging that companies Nestle and Cargill knew of such child labor conditions but aided and abetted for profit. Trial results are expected in a few weeks.

The solution? Ghana has threatened to stop cocoa exports. Since the claim was shared directly with Switzerland last year, the country has been exploring ways to make chocolate themselves and own more of the supply chain. Challenges include a lacking dairy industry (which means they’re importing powdered milk), packaging that doesn’t compare to the Western brands, and unreliable energy that is far more expensive — especially with the hotter climate requiring more power to keep chocolate from melting. Despite these hurdles, some progress has been made in the country’s capital.

  • Two sisters started ‘57 Chocolate, a craft chocolate brand that sources from small family farms and produces about a thousand bars per week. They even share the chocolate with the farmers supplying cocoa, many of whom have never tasted the result of their hard work.
  • A German-Ghanaian company has built a $10 million factory that will ultimately produce 100 million bars a year. While modest in comparison to European manufacturers, it results in five times more value staying in Ghana.

And there’s even growing interest in premium chocolate markets, especially as more millennial buyers voice interest in consuming from supply chains that are responsible and humane. While Ghana hasn’t followed up with further statements on ending cocoa exports, it’s clear that interest in retaining more value domestically is of high priority. Many are comparing the movement to Asia’s success in growing their economy by training their workforce in factories. 

Some additional resources...


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What did Ghana say to Switzerland?

Wake me up! Before you cocoa...

Art Credit: Hayley Jane Wakenshaw

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