My cocoa my life

4. one on one with Board member“My journey into cocoa farming is almost surreal. I used to work as a bookseller and then I got another opportunity with a multinational company to work as a commercial agent I Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. As the years passed by and my parents were getting older, I decided to go back home and support them in their farming activities. When I went back, I realized the working and living conditions of producers were so bad and I thought perhaps the best way to improve their situation was to join up with them and set up a cooperative. We joined hands and started the cooperative CANN (Coopérative Agricole N’Zrama de N’Douci). This was the genesis of my interest with the Fairtrade Label. I am now based at Ndouci in Côte d’Ivoire where my cocoa farm is located. I am a cocoa producer and also the chair of the Fairtrade Western Africa network.

For me joining the Board of FTA, which is the African Network, is making my modest contribution to the voice of the African producers. I have a personal commitment to raise the voice of farmers. My main objective is to help my peers have better living conditions and decent and significant income.

I believe I am mandated to integrate the voice of African producers into the Fairtrade system. I was the first president of the cocoa consultative committee and under my mandate, we helped set up the Fairtrade Sourcing Program. I have travelled across Europe to support and campaign for this program. I have met many NFOs and consumers. On the 7th of October 2016 for example, I was happy to have participated in the London chocolate Forum. I was proud to have a voice at such an important industry event. My message to the delegates was that if we want to continue consuming chocolate, we all need to have a common vision. Ask us what we need – we will talk to you and we will take a decision together.”

__________

Fortin Bley, FTA Western Africa, Board member representative