Stephen backs Fairtrade Fortnight campaign for cocoa farmers

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Stephen has met with farmers from the Ivory Coast, Rwanda and the Dominican Republic at a reception in Parliament. The event was held as part of Fairtrade Fortnight, which sees communities, schools, businesses and faith groups up and down the country holding events in support of farmers from developing countries.

The Fairtrade Foundation’s campaign ‘She Deserves a Living Income’ is shining a light on the poverty facing cocoa farmers in West Africa, where 60% of cocoa is grown, who earn as little as 74p per day and are unable to pay for essentials like food, send their children to school or buy medicine if they fall sick.

Speaking at the reception, Stephen said: “I am delighted to support Fairtrade Fortnight and the She Deserves a Living Income campaign, which celebrates the hard work of women cocoa farmers and calls on all of us to do more to increase their incomes. In our constituency I know there are many people who support Fairtrade and will be out there buying and gifting Fairtrade chocolate and other goods to help farmers get a better deal.”

A new report from the Fairtrade Foundation, launched at the event in Parliament, reveals women cocoa farmers often carry the greatest burden and yet get the least reward. It calls on the government and businesses to ensure farmers earn living incomes by 2030 in line with the UN’s Global Goals to end poverty.

Awa Traoré, who is also the director of Fairtrade cocoa co-operative, CAYAT, gave a speech about how a living income of £1.86 could transform the lives of cocoa farmers, and why it is vital to empower women. Ms Traoré said: “Women are very important in the development process. If you want to change the lives of producers, you have to focus on women. In our community we use the Fairtrade premium to redress the balance: to train women, to teach them how to read and write to empower them and we have developed activities that create income for them.”