Ivory Coast Exposes Fairtrade’s Shady Dealings in the Cocoa Industry

May 14, 2024 | News, Politics | 0 comments

In a bold move that exposes the underbelly of the global cocoa trade, Ivory Coast has taken a principled stance by suspending its Fairtrade cocoa programme. This decision, fueled by suspicions of contamination with uncertified beans, is a much-needed wake-up call for the industry and a direct challenge to the neocolonial practices that have long exploited the West African nation’s resources.

The Ivorian regulator’s action comes on the heels of an unusually high volume of Fairtrade beans traded on its platform, raising legitimate concerns about the integrity of the certification process. For too long, the cocoa trade has been shrouded in trade secrecy, with Western corporations reaping the benefits of cheap labour and lax oversight while the farmers who toil in the fields receive a mere fraction of the profits.

The liquidity crunch that is currently turning the global cocoa market is a stark reminder of the precarious position that Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world’s largest producers, find themselves in. These nations, which account for more than half of global supplies, are often forced to sell up to 80% of their cocoa crop before the harvest even begins in October, perpetuating a cycle of economic dependence and exploitation.

It is high time that the veil of secrecy surrounding the cocoa trade is lifted and the true costs of the industry’s practices are exposed. The Fairtrade system, which purports to promote ethical and sustainable practices, has proven itself to be susceptible to the same corrupting influences that have plagued the cocoa trade for decades.

The Ivory Coast’s decisive action is a significant call for African nations to reassert their sovereignty over their natural resources and demand a fair and equitable share of the profits. For too long, the cocoa trade has been a one-way street, with the wealth generated by the sweat and toil of African farmers flowing inexorably towards the coffers of Western corporations.

As the global community grapples with the realities of climate change and the urgent need for sustainable practices, the cocoa industry must undergo a fundamental restructuring. The Ivory Coast’s stance serves as a catalyst for this transformation, challenging the status quo and demanding transparency, accountability and a fair return for the precious commodity that has sustained the nation’s economy for generations.