Why the African cocoa cartel is a bad idea
An obsession with cocoa prices overlooks better ways to help the poor
Big commodity buyers do not usually pay their suppliers to produce something that they will never buy. Yet Nestlé, one of the world’s biggest chocolate-makers, is paying 10,000 cocoa farmers in Ivory Coast to do exactly that. Among them is Tanoh Kouadio, a 45-year-old cocoa farmer whom Nestlé will pay about 67,000 west African francs ($104) to start raising chickens.
Eating chocolate is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Selling it can be rather profitable. Alas, growing the beans that go into it is neither particularly profitable nor pleasurable. Most cocoa farmers are poor; many of those who work for them are children. The reason that Nestlé is moonlighting as a pro-poultry ngo is because it worries its customers may see chocolate as a guilty pleasure in more ways than one.