Washington — Fairtrade America has launched a national campaign to generate broader awareness of the unjust price that farmers receive to produce goods such as cocoa.
Released on World Chocolate Day, the “It’s Only Fair,” campaign features three videos connecting shoppers in the U.S. to smallholder cocoa farmers in West Africa and the issues farmers are facing around the world with the question, “How long would you work for $1?”
With the videos, Fairtrade America is encouraging consumers to consider the impact that their purchasing decisions are having on others around the globe and spark conversations about what can be done to change the situation.
“We hope these videos first get viewers to chuckle, and second help them consider how little $1 a day in pay truly is,” shares Peg Willingham, executive director of Fairtrade America. “Farmers work extremely hard to produce our favorite goods like cocoa, coffee and bananas, while struggling with challenges like extreme weather from climate change and rising costs. We hope these videos get people talking about these issues and motivate them to make thoughtful purchases with people and the planet in mind whenever possible.”
To further engage consumers interested in sharing the need for a fairer deal for farmers, Fairtrade America is also hosting an, “It’s Only Fair” giveaway on Instagram. Through July 28, 15 randomly-selected winners will receive all they need to start a conversation about the need to choose Fairtrade, including Fairtrade certified products as well as a Bodum French Press, a Fairtrade cotton tote bag and conversation cards complete with stats.
Because of the realities of the global food market, many cocoa farmers work an entire day for between $0.78 – $1.00 which is significantly below the international poverty line. Through this new campaign, Fairtrade America hopes to turn this global issue into a more relatable problem, inspiring viewers to pause, reflect, learn and share about the impact unfair trade has on farmers and workers around the world.
Globally, cocoa and chocolate together are a $48.29 billion industry that is expected to grow, yet cocoa farmers are currently battling inflation, rising production costs, the climate crisis and COVID-19 related challenges while the price they earn for cocoa hasn’t risen to meet these changes. The cocoa industry is an important source of revenue for about 50 million people, including 5 million farming households.
“My cooperative produces cocoa and includes close to 10,000 cocoa farmers from 67 communities. I’ve seen first-hand the evolving business side of cocoa,” says Deborah Osei-Mensah, livelihood development officer of Ghana’s Asunafo North Farmers Union, leader of the union’s monitoring and evaluation team and Fairtrade youth ambassador. “In my role with Asunafo, I am honored to help train other women to diversify their incomes beyond cocoa. My community and I ask for businesses to commit to supporting farmers in producing your cocoa and offer a fair deal; for consumers to be conscious about what they are consuming. Be fair, purchase fair and, with that, make the future fair — there’s just one world and we should be supporting each other within it.”
A recent report from Mainlevel Consulting and commissioned by Fairtrade found that Fairtrade positively impacts certified farmers and their communities when compared to non-Fairtrade certified farmers, particularly in times of difficulty and distress. However, researchers also identified significant challenges that risk undermining the gains Fairtrade farmers have achieved and that threaten their livelihoods.
The advantages of the Fairtrade system are falling under increasing pressure from compounding global calamities such as the climate crisis, COVID-19 and prices that are too low to cover rising costs of farming and daily life. The study also warns that progress toward reducing poverty will be stalled, if not reversed, if farmers are not paid more.
“Farmers aren’t getting a fair deal. This is not only unjust, it is also unsustainable,” Willingham adds. “Fairtrade believes that everyone deserves a decent standard of living. It’s only fair to pay a price that supports an existence worthy of human dignity.”