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Chocolate Nations

Chocolate Nations

Órla Ryan


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Chocolate - the very word conjures up a hint of the forbidden and a taste of the decadent. Yet the story behind the chocolate bar is rarely one of luxury. From the thousands of children who work on plantations to the smallholders who harvest the beans, Chocolate Nations reveals the hard economic realities of our favourite sweet. This vivid and gripping exploration of the reasons behind farmer poverty includes the human stories of the producers and traders at the heart of the West African industry. Orla Ryan shows that only a tiny fraction of the cash we pay for a chocolate bar actually makes it back to the farmers, and sheds light on what Fair Trade really means on the ground. Provocative and eye-opening, Chocolate Nations exposes the true story of how the treat we love makes it on to our supermarket shelves.
Orla Ryan works for the Financial Times in London. She lived in Africa for more than four years, first in Uganda, and then in Ghana, where she worked for Reuters.
'A captivating read, painting a lively picture of the West African cocoa trade from a variety of perspectives.' Daniel Balint Kurti, Global Witness 'I gave up eating chocolate years ago after seeing at first hand the exploitation that surrounds its production in Africa. Since then, endless panaceas and fair trading schemes have failed to improve the lot of the farmers. It was about time a book like this was written.' Stephen Chan OBE, author of The End of Certainty 'That Mmmmoment when our lips meet the meltilicious chocolate bar we've been waiting for all day ... well, it could be the last bite we take of it that tastes right after reading this exposé of the cocoa industry. "Fair trade" is a great feelgood advertising line, but it is often a contradiction in terms. Not much profit trickles down from the shelves of our shops to the farmers and child labour (in reality, trafficked or slave labour, Ryan says) of Ghana and Ivory Coast whose poverty is covered up by weasel words from trade associations and financial interests glibly defending exploitation and profiteering.' The Times 'A fascinating account of the struggles of cocoa producers in West Africa, almost all of them smallholders, and what it takes to turn a crop of cocoa into a warehouse full of Ferrero Rocher.' The Guardian 'Paints a disturbing and subtle picture of an industry few chocolate consumers think about.' Sydney Morning Herald 'Arresting and provocative. The author’s interviews with labourers movingly illuminate the struggles that lie behind an icon of western indulgence.' Financial Times 'Presents the tragic and shocking detail behind the world's favourite confectionery.' New Agriculturist 'A courageous and thoughtful account of a murky industry.' Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
About the author ii
Title page iii
Copyright\r iv
Table of contents\r v
Acknowledgements vii
Introduction 1
One | Ghana is Cocoa 8
On the shoulders of peasant farmers 8
Fight for independence 11
A lifeline under revolutionary rule 15
No simple success story 21
Two | Cocoa Wars 24
A missing man 24
Miracle state 25
After Boigny – a crisis of identity 30
Battle for land 34
In the graveyard 37
Land and identity 40
Three | Child Labour 43
The crusading senator 43
Industry cynicism 45
Defining the problem 47
In search of riches 54
School and the farm 56
Heart of the industry 59
Four | Follow the money 63
The man who couldn’t keep a secret 63
The new president 66
An avenging journalist 69
A reporter in danger 73
Abduction 75
Business as usual 78
Five | From bean to bar 81
Recipe for success 85
Millers and grinders 87
Pricing the bar 91
On the shelf 94
Six | Fairtrade myths and reality 98
More to this than meets the eye 98
A global movement 102
Not the only fair buyer 103
A competitive marketplace 110
Airbrushing reality 116
Seven | Trading Games 120
Privileged childhood 120
Fundamental rules 122
A concentrated market 127
Power games 129
Battle for control 132
Eight | Building a sustainable future 141
Cocoa under attack 141
Chocolate fears 144
Owning land and sharing cocoa 145
Need for science 148
On-the-ground training 151
Lure of the city 154
Epilogue 158
Notes 162
Introduction 162
Chapter one 162
Chapter two 164
Chapter three 166
Chapter four 167
Chapter five 169
Chapter six 169
Chapter seven 170
Chapter eight 171
Bibliography 172
Index 175
African Arguments 183