It is Fairtrade Fortnight and there are lots of events happening all over the UK to celebrate. I am usually more involved but what I am now calling my ‘year off’ has pulled me in different directions for now. When I heard that Lambeth Fairtrade Network were going to have two farmers from Divine Chocolate speaking about what a co-operative is and how they have benefitted from this and from Fairtrade, I wanted to go and support them. I have heard Fairtrade farmers from all over the world speak at events during Fairtrade Fortnight and they are always inspirational. Yesterday was no exception.
The speakers were Elias Mohammed and Agnes Armah from the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative in Ghana. The co-operative owns 45% of Divine chocolate so the farmers get their Fairtrade price, their community Fairtrade premium (that they spend on classrooms, wells, latrines) and if Divine makes a profit – a dividend. Last year the co-operative agreed to spend the dividend on buying a machete for each farmer. This seems a small thing to us but is essential equipment to them. Elias and Agnes were asked what they would chose to buy this year if there is a dividend. They explained patiently that this would need to be decided by the district and regional branches of the co-operative and then options put forward to the AGM. We pressed and said if you could chose what would it be? ‘Wellington boots’. Apparently these would transform working among the cocoa trees where snakes can be common and a bite difficult to treat and potentially fatal. I don’t have much disposable money at the moment but I know that I could always afford Wellington boots if my life depended on it. How grounding is that? We have so much it feels as if the world is completly out of balance. Anyway, I felt so inspired by their humerous and happy approach, I went out and bought my favorite bar of Divine chocolate – how amazing that I don’t have to sacrifice anything or make some meaningless donation to have a positive impact. I LOVE FAIRTRADE.