One on one with our Board member: Mr Fortin Bley

 4. one on one with Board member1. What spurred your interest to join the Fairtrade Africa Board?

For me joining the Board of FTA, which is the African Network, is to make 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. As you may know, 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.

 2.    What are some of your expectations now that you have joined the Board?

 I would like to be able to engage governments so that together we can create greater dynamics of increased consumption of Fairtrade products that would enable access to market for Africa & Middle East producers.

To achieve this, I think there is a need to work closely with National Fairtrade Organisations and steer them to increase their market facing activities or sensitization days at a national level showcasing how Fairtrade Premium can change producers’ lives. These kind of activities can be complemented well by producer participations in fairs in these countries.

 3.    Please share more about your background and what you hope to bring on

Board during your term?

My journey is so simple. I used to work as a bookseller and then I got another opportunity with a multinational company to work as a commercial agent in 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.

 4.    What are your hobbies?

Literature, cultural discoveries and traveling