Meet Cocoa Farmer Fortin Bley

Fortin, 42, is a cocoa farmer in Côte d’Ivoire and Secretary General of Cooperative Agricole N’Zrama de N’Douci (CANN). Fortin lives with his wife and has one child.

CANN was set up so that its members could benefit from fair buying practices and better prices. More Fairtrade sales would mean a lot – to Fortin and the wider community.

Life as a cocoa farmer

Cocoa is a delicate and sensitive crop that farmers must protect from wind, sun, pests and disease.

The region’s extensive vegetation and forest cover is also under pressure from human activities such as agriculture and logging. And the intermittent political unrest means that cocoa prices have been unstable.

Fortin, like other members, relies on cocoa production to support his family but he has struggled to raise the productivity of his farm because of ageing cocoa trees, poor soil and outdated farming methods.

Poverty levels in the region have meant that there wasn’t enough money for the farmers to invest in the necessary improvements.

How Fairtrade and Cann have made a difference

  • Around 90% of the co-operative’s members have had access to training on good agricultural practices
  • Access to subsidized pesticides, machetes and wellington boots has greatly improved productivity and working conditions
  • The Fairtrade Premium has been used by the community to rebuild two primary schools in local villages. Both had been in ruins and the one in the village of Tiemokokro had survived with a single volunteer teacher. Now, the rebuilt school has a principal, two teachers and three volunteers teaching 200 students

Author: David Wiggs

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