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The majority of the world’s cocoa production is around tropical regions surrounding the Equator, the hot and humid climate suits the growing of cocoa trees.
70% of the world’s cocoa beans come from four West African countries;
Cocoa beans are grown in pods from cocoa trees.
The pods are ready to harvest after around 3 to 4 weeks.
The pods are harvested by making a cut through the stalk with a very sharp blade.
The pods are opened to remove the beans within a week of harvesting.
A cutting tool, such as a machete, is can be used to split the pod but more commonly, machinery has been developed for pod opening. Although, smaller family businesses prefer to split the pods manually.
Depending on the location of cocoa farms, farmers may face troubles surrounding production levels due to weather and region, access to market information, higher individual sales and fewer group sales, knowledge about cocoa quality requirements and transportation costs.
Cocoa farmers may also face hardships if they don’t have knowledge or access to modern farming techniques
Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately 30-40% of the crop is lost to pests and disease attacking cocoa trees and/or damaging soil fertility. Although, soil fertility can be improved my composting, and promoting agroforestry techniques
Unfortunately, in many areas, due to a lack of basic education, many farmer labor practices and business are unethically and unfairly paid far less than others for their production.
Ethics relates to moral principles or knowledge dealing with certain events. We aim for an ethical trade market so all contributors of our food and services are treated fairly, whether that be paid accordingly or receiving entitled privileges. Unfortunately, Ghanaian cocoa farmers are paid 77 cents per pound of cocoa produced whereas if a high-end farmer sells 2-ounces of chocolate bars for $9 each, he receives $72 per pound.
The industry faces unethical accusations such as deforestation. Many farmers illegally cut down and abuse the environment, simply to plant cocoa farms for self-profit.
In the early 2000 a handful of organizations and journalists exposed the use of child labor and child slavery on cocoa farms in Western Africa. Since then, the industry has become secretive making it difficult for reporters to research and get insight to these farms.
The farms of Western Africa supply cocoa to large companies such as Hershey’s, Mars, and Nestlé, after being exposed and revealing the industry’s direct connection to the worst forms of child labor, human trafficking, and slavery companies had seen a decrease in sales but because of lack of exposure and knowledge about such crimes to the general public, they quickly recovered and are still booming companies of the 21st century
The increase popularity for chocolate saw an increase demand in cocoa. On average, cocoa farmers earn less than $2 per day, an income below the poverty line. Explaining reasoning for the use of cheap child labor to keep their prices competitive. Unfortunately, in West Africa, many young children begin the work force before even entering secondary school to support their families. Children are “sold” to traffickers by relatives who are unaware of the dangerous work environment and unethical conduct. Once taken to the cocoa farms, the children may not see their families for years, or ever.
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