07 May 2012

Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa

Chocolate - the very word conjures up a hint of the forbidden and a taste of the decadent. Yet the story behind the chocolate bar is rarely one of luxury...

Zed Books | 25 April 2012

Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa by Orla Ryan
20 January 2011- Paperback - ISBN: 9781848130050 - 192 pages




From the thousands of children who work on plantations to the smallholders who harvest the beans, Chocolate Nations reveals the hard economic realities of our favourite sweet. This vivid and gripping exploration of the reasons behind farmer poverty includes the human stories of the producers and traders at the heart of the West African industry. Orla Ryan shows that only a tiny fraction of the cash we pay for a chocolate bar actually makes it back to the farmers, and sheds light on what Fairtrade really means on the ground.

Provocative and eye-opening, Chocolate Nations exposes the true story of how the treat we love makes it on to our supermarket shelves.


'Orla's Chocolate Nations is a captivating read, painting a lively picture of the West African cocoa trade from a variety of perspectives. It casts a critical eye over the role played by governments and multinationals, while also putting fair trade and child slavery campaigns in perspective. It gives us all a good deal more to think about when we eat 'the food of the gods'.' - Daniel Balint Kurti at Global Witness

'I gave up eating chocolate years ago after seeing at first hand the exploitation that surrounds its production in Africa. Since then, endless panaceas and fair trading schemes have failed to improve the lot of the farmers. It was about time a book like this was written.' - Stephen Chan OBE, author of The End of Certainty

'That Mmmmoment when our lips meet the meltilicious chocolate bar we've been waiting for all day ... well, it could be the last bite we take of it that tastes right after reading this exposé of the cocoa industry. 'Fair trade' is a great feelgood advertising line, but it is often a contradiction in terms. Not much profit trickles down from the shelves of our shops to the farmers and child labour (in reality, trafficked or slave labour, Ryan says) of Ghana and Ivory Coast whose poverty is covered up by weasel words from trade associations and financial interests glibly defending exploitation and profiteering.' - Iain Finlayson, Times

'Chocolate Nations is a fascinating account of the stuggles of cocoa producers in West Africa, almost all of them smallholders, and what it takes to turn a crop of cocoa into a warehouse full of Ferrero Rocher.' - Jeremy Harding, The Guardian

'Paints a disturbing and subtle picture of an industry few chocolate consumers think about.' - Sydney Morning Herald

'Arresting and provocative. The author’s interviews with labourers movingly illuminate the struggles that lie behind an icon of western indulgence.' - Financial Times

'Presents the tragic and shocking detail behind the world's favourite confectionery.' - New Agriculturist

'A courageous and thoughtful account of a murky industry.' - Times Literary Supplement

Table of Contents


1. Ghana is Cocoa
On the shoulders of peasant farmers - Fight for independence - A lifeline under revolutionary rule - No simple success story

2. Cocoa Wars
A missing man - Miracle state - After Boigny - a crisis of identity - Battle for land - In the graveyard - Land and identity

3. Child Labour
The crusading Senator - Industry cynicism - Defining the problem - In search of riches - School and the farm - Heart of the industry

4. Follow the money
The man who couldn't keep a secret - The new president - An avenging journalist - A reporter in danger - Abduction - Business as usual

5. From bean to bar
Recipe for success - Millers and grinders - Pricing the bar - On the shelf

6. Fairtrade myths and reality
More to this than meets the eye - A global movement - Not the only fair buyer - A competitive marketplace - Airbrushing reality

7. Trading games
Privileged childhood - Fundamental rules - A concentrated market - Power games - Battle for control

8. Building a sustainable future
Cocoa under attack - Chocolate fears - Owning land and sharing cocoa - Need for science - On the ground training - Lure of the city




About the Author

Orla Ryan works for the Financial Times in London. She lived in Africa for more than four years, first in Uganda, and then in Ghana, where she worked for Reuters.

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1 comment:

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