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    Don't Give Up on Fairtrade This Lent

    Wednesday, 22 January 2020  |  Joanna

    Lent has a long tradition of self sacrifice and many of us like to give something up for the 6 weeks running up to Easter - a little treat that we will miss.

    Lots of us choose to give up chocolate which seems like a good idea - after all we all get plenty of chocolate eggs at Easter so giving up for a few weeks beforehand will make the celebrations even more special, however have you thought about the cocoa and sugar farmers who rely on income from chocolate sales for their livelihood?

    This is a group of Fairtrade cocoa farmers in Cote D'Ivoire taking part in the Women's Leadership School. The school is financed by the Fairtrade premium - an additional 10% paid on top of the Fairtrade price and ringfenced for community and development projects. The school only exists because of the Fairtrade chocolate we buy.

    In the 1980s farmers typically received around 18% of the cost of your chocolate bar. Now it's closer to 6%. This means that while incomes for customers in places like Europe have been increasing, the incomes of the people who grow the products we love have been reducing. This is why Fairtrade is so important. The Fairtrade premium is spent in ways chosen directly by the communities affected. They know best what their community needs, what will have the most impact, and unlike a lot of charities which come in with pre-conceived ideas, Fairtrade trusts people to spend the premium in the most appropriate way - it's their money after all.

    This shows one of the remote areas of Ghana where cocoa is grown. The community chose to use their Fairtrade premium to improve people's lives through sinking boreholes, saving many hours of work - mainly done by women - fetching and carrying water from far away.

    Education is an obvious way to improve the lives of farmers and their communities. The Fairtrade premium is spent all over West Africa on schools, books, uniforms, meals, school buses and even bikes to help children get to school.

    By choosing Fairtrade chocolate, you can make a real difference in the lives of some of the world's poorest people. So instead of giving up chocolate this Lent, why not pledge to make sure the only chocolate you eat during Lent is Fairtrade? This might mean you can have a conversation about your choice when someone offers you chocolate, and explain why choosing Fairtrade is a positive choice for the world's poorest farmers.

    Don't give up on them this Lent.