WOMEN STUDIES ECO-FOOTPRINT PROJECT Topic – Cocoa Beans Production Process Chocolate is a key ingredient in many foods such as milk shakes, candy bars, cookies and cereals. It is ranked as one of the most favourite flavours in North America and Europe. Despite its popularity most people do not know the unique origin of this popular treat. Chocolate is a product that requires complex procedures to produce. The process involves harvesting cocoa, refining coca to cocoa beans, and shipping the cocoa beans to the manufacturing factory for cleaning, coaching and grinding.
These cocoa beans will then be imported or exported to other countries and be transformed into different types of chocolate products. Cocoa beans grow in countries like Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Indonesia, Brazil, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Malaysia, but the highest cocoa producing country is Cote d'Ivoire. The production process of cocoa beans include: first, cocoa is harvested manually. The seed pods of cocoa are collected and the beans are selected and placed in piles. These cocoa beans are then ready to be shipped to the manufacturer for production.
Cocoa grows in pods that sprout off the trunks and branches of cocoa trees. The pods have the shape and almost the size of football. The pods start out green and turn orange when they are ripe. When the pods are ripe they are harvested gently with machetes. Machines can damage the trees or the clusters of flowers and pods that grow on the trunk, so workers have to harvest the pods by hand, using short, hooked blades mounted on long poles to reach the highest fruit. The cocoa seeds then undergo a process of fermentation by placing them in large, shallow, heated trays or by covering them with large banana leaves.
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If the climate is right, they may be simply heated by the sun. Workers mostly women come along periodically and stir them up so that all of the beans come out equally fermented. This process may take up to five or eight days. After fermentation, the cocoa seeds are dried before they can be scooped into sacks and shipped to chocolate manufacturers. Farmers simply spread the fermented seeds on trays and leave them in the sun to dry. The drying process usually takes about a week and results in seeds becoming reduced to about half of their original weight.
During the production process, labor is not equally divided between men and women who work in the planation; this brings us to the issue of gender division. The gender divide that exists on the cocoa plantation is that most farm work is conducted by men, although most certainly there are tasks where women are very active, such as scooping the beans from the already opened husks, turning the beans during the fermentation and drying process, and sewing the jute sacs needed for the packaging of the dried beans. Women in the farms normally tend to the needs of the family.
When female labor is hired during the harvesting time the wages given to them are not the same as those for men. Perhaps another reason why men are preferred is because of their assumed higher productivity rate compared to that of women. Due to different practices followed in individual regions, even within countries, the participation of women and their assigned tasks vary enormously. For instance, because of the popular method of sun drying cocoa beans in Ecuador, it is necessary to “clean” the beans. This job is mostly undertaken by women.
This is not the case in Ghana or Brazil where sun drying is accomplished while protecting the beans from foreign matters and waste. It is interesting to note however that there is no specific pattern for the assignment of tasks to women, except during the harvest when the scooping of the beans from the opened pods is primarily performed by women in most cocoa producing countries. Given the great differences in the systems of production in producing countries it is difficult to find a common percentage that reflects the average participation of the female work force.
It is worth mentioning that unlike the coffee agricultural sector, there are no associations or specific groups that house ‘women only’ involved in the cocoa sector at any level, although all associations and cooperatives are open to all who qualify. Due to fluctuation of cocoa prices in the world market, farmers have no long-term security, and in some situations, they do not have enough funds to support their farming business.
Cocoa farmers are always faced with financial hardship; they are not able to provide for their families as they would want nor have enough funds to start up their own farming business because they only receive a fraction of the proceeds from the selling of the beans on the world market and there are many people in the trading chain. Cocoa farmers around the world face many challenges. It is estimated that about one-third of global cocoa crops are destroyed by pests and diseases every year. Many cocoa farmers have limited access to the latest agricultural technologies or methods of cultivation and few of them ave business backgrounds to help them effectively market their products and manage their operations. Many of the farming communities live in poverty and are infected with diseases. Industry groups, governments and consumers worldwide have raised concerns about the use of pesticides and child labor on West African cocoa farms. An interview conducted by Christophe Koffi showed that one major problem that women in cocoa production encounter is the lack the of financial capability or backing due to the fact that most of these women find themselves in a male dominated occupation.
It is very difficult for them to secure financial aid or loans to manage their farms. For instance, “Women cannot inherit or even create a cocoa plantation under our patriarch-dominated tradition,” said Vanie, criticising what she called a “backwards and misogynist” practice” (Koffi, 2008) because we still live in a patriarchal dominated society where women do not have the right to own lands and properties. This paper further talks about the sustanability in the production process of cocoa.
We will be looking at Lindt& Sprungli’s which is a family company and a major producer of chocolate and other cocoa products with a headquaters in Kilchberg, Switzerland. Lindt & Sprungli is one of the few chocolate makers that have complete control over every step of the production chain starting with the precise selection of the finest cocoa varieties from the best growing areas in the world right on through the careful and expert processing until ending with the elegant packaging.
Lindt gets its cocoa beans mostly from Ghana and Central and South America. Lindt has been very conservative in the amount of energy its invests in the chocolate production process. Each existing and future facility and investment undergoes very detailed analysis to determine how much energy can be saved. Through better insulation and energy recovery, Lindt & Sprungli was able to cut down on energy consumption by more than 13% per ton produced between 2004 and 2010.
The company intends to continue reducing the energy consumption rate per ton produced by an average over the coming years. According to the Lindt publication, The company’s efforts: since 1999, Lindt & Sprungli’s Swiss subsidiary, Chocoladefabriken Lindt & Sprungli (Schweiz) AG, has been an active member of the Lake Zurich Energy Model Group…The Swiss government and independent engineers have audited the progress and as a result, the Swiss subsidiary has been granted the official certificate. Kilchberg, 2012) Since 2007, Lindt & Sprungli under water conservation has been participating in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)…Since then, the measurements of water emissions and energy consumption have been largely based on the concept of the ‘Methodology Fossil Fuels’ set out in the CDP Protocol…Waste water, Lindt & Sprungli continuously monitors and analyses the use of water and the output of wastewater in the production process and intends to further reduce the use of fresh water in this process, which, in turn will impact the output of wastewater (Kilchberg, 2012) The major people that benefit from cocoa production are mostly the big corporations. The corporations exploit cocoa farmers in the sense that they do not pay them the true worth of their labour. Women who work on the farms are underpaid and marginalized. There is also the issue of child labor where children of school going age are forced to work on the farms instead of going to school thereby denying them the right to education. The big corporations are not forth coming in releasing information as to how and where they get their cocoa beans from.
Most of these African countries where these big corporations get their raw materials from do not have access to good roads, health care facilities, schools, electricity, and there is poverty in most of the communities. These big corporations buy the cocoa beans at a very cheap rate and then import them to the western society and the refined product is processed into different kinds of chocolates (e. g. chocolate drink, chocolate bars of different shapes and sizes and chocolate candies etc. ) which are sold consumers at exorbitant prices considering the price at which the cocoa beans are bought from the cocoa farmers. This explains how capitalism and big corporation exploit cheap labour. Almost everyone enjoys a bit of chocolate every now and again. But if you take a closer look at how cocoa is produced, it may well leave a bitter taste in your mouth.
The conditions under which the cocoa farmers in many producer countries live and work are worrying: Despite the fact that cocoa is usually their main source of income, the families struggle to make a living from it. Child labour is not uncommon. As consumers we can work with NGOs to find means of helping the farmers to adapt to new systems of cocoa farming that result higher yields, under socially more acceptable and environmentally friendly conditions, to meet market demands and hence ensure a stable flow income. As a major part of the global cocoa industry which has remained inactive and invisible for so long, consumers of chocolate can demonstrate that they want slavery in the cocoa sector stamped out, and your pressure can highlight their lack of commitment and make them more accountable.
Finally all cocoa products, including chocolate, run the risk of being tainted by child labour and slavery. To achieve a satisfactory standard of ethical production in chocolate consumers must help to ensure that companies commit to credible and sufficient actions against such things as use of child labour and the exploitation of cocoa farmers and not make false and unsustainable promises to consumers of being “slavery- free”. The consumers can liaise with government bodies and NGOs to negotiate fair prices for the purchase of cocoa products and this will in turn help the farmers to gain access to basic social amenities of life. Reference Page Archer, D. (2012).
ADM’s commitment to sustainable cocoa. Milwaukee: Copyright 2012 Archer Daniels Midland Company . Clarkson, T. (1998). Anti-slavery. Retrieved November 15, 2012, from www. antislavery. org: http://www. antislavery. org/english/privacy_policy. aspx Kilchberg. (2012, April 22). The environment in the Production Process. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from www. Lindt. com: http://www. lindt. com/swf/eng/company/social-responsibility/lindts-sustainable-cocoa-supply-chain/ Koffi, C. (2008, November 7). Ivory Coast women defy taboos. Retrieved November 11, 2012, from iol News: http://www. iol. co. za/news/africa/ivory-coast-women-defy-taboos-1. 423405
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