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  • Shania George

The Sweet Stolen Taste

Most people know that chocolate is made from cocoa beans which is then dried and so on, but do you really know ‘how’ it is made? The chocolate you eat has a bitter beginning, not just in its name. Cocoa beans thrive in temperatures of 10 degrees north and south of the equator, hence, 70 percent of the world’s cocoa comes from Africa. The problem here is that the supply chain for chocolate is not as simple as you might think.

After the farmer harvests his produce, he sells it to a pisteur (somebody who transports the cocoa to a large village) who then supplies to the village aggregator. He then supplies to the cooperative (a company that collects beans from rural communities.) which finally sells to the exporters. In the end, it is loaded onto enormous cargo ships that travel to the country of the processor in a remote transaction handled by commodity dealers. This means the beans (and money) are moved through various hands before finally reaching its end or main destination. This means that the farmer does not get enough money to cover his expenditure, meaning he will have to take drastic measures to cut costs.

This poverty stems from the fact that his income is less than one US dollar per day which is nowhere near to satisfy the needs of his family or crops. This leaves him with no other choice but to resort to illicit means due to poverty. Drastic measures include modern slavery, deforestation and crime towards pisteurs. Modern slavery inadvertently means child labour, in some shape or form. In 2010, a global investigation exposed sickening realities of slavery in the modern world, particularly in the cocoa industry.

Farmers incline towards deforestation to get more land and therefore more produce. Etelle Higonnet, an environmental and human rights activist, claims that the Ivory Coast has lost 85% of its forests since 1990. For desperate farmers, it can be a lucrative additional source of income when production is combined with free usage of land. According to government sources cited by him, 500,000 tonnes of cocoa had allegedly been produced within protected zones.

Anyone with money can be a target of crime due to the extreme poverty in the cocoa supply chain. The Netflix series ‘Rotten’ reveals reports of homicides and thefts, particularly among the pisteurs who run prosperous companies. In reality, pisteurs dress casually on purpose to reduce their chances of being kidnapped, robbed, or even killed.

So what is the solution to this dire problem? Abstaining from eating chocolate from specific companies will only result in loss of sales and therefore losses to farmers. Paying more for chocolate is not a sustainable option as there is no guarantee that it will flow to the farmers. The best thing that we can do right now is inform the consumers on the current situation, pushing everyone else for a big change. Simply said, a lot goes into chocolate but only a fraction of it is shown on the back of the bar you eat.



The bitter price farmers pay for sweet chocolate





Bitter Chocolate – Rotten (Netflix series)









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