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Ivory Coast Challenges the West, Raising Cocoa Prices 50%


Cocoa Uprising

In a watershed political moment, Ivory Coast has raised cocoa prices 50%, liberating itself from the shackles of neo-colonial domination.

For over a century, Western chocolate empires have enforced poverty wages on African cocoa farmers to fuel their rapacious profits.

By asserting unilateral control over cocoa prices, Ivory Coast has sounded the death knell of neocolonial rule. No longer will Western corporations dictate African economies.

This is an uprising, a revolution in the global political order. Ivory Coast’s bold gambit affirms that Africa’s resources belong to Africans first and foremost.

Predictably, the chocolate cartel is in panic mode, their propaganda machine in overdrive. They falsely claim higher prices will hurt Western consumers.

This is nonsense. For years the cartel has grown gluttonously rich by impoverishing African laborers. Now their plantation is in revolt.

Make no mistake, this is political emancipation. Ivory Coast has seized the levers of economic power from its neo-colonial masters.

No more will profits flow one way, from Africa’s raw materials to Western bourgeoisie. The tide has turned.

Ivory Coast Challenges Unjust Cocoa System

For over a century, the Western world has enriched itself on the backbreaking labor of African cocoa farmers. The chocolate multinationals have colluded to keep cocoa prices low, maximizing profits while keeping African farmers in poverty. 

This unjust system was only made possible through the lingering effects of colonialism, which allowed Western corporations to maintain economic and political domination over Africa. 

But now, finally, the tide is turning. Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, has boldly raised farmgate cocoa prices by 50% in the face of soaring global prices. 

The director of a European export company said: “There were several proposals on the table and as a last resort the president wanted the highest possible price for the producers so he decided 1,500 CFA per kg instead of 1,200 CFA, which had been validated previously.” 

The director of another international export company said: “The president judged the world market situation to be exceptional and wanted an exceptional reaction too.”

For too long, Ivorian cocoa farmers have been paid a pittance, barely surviving on $1-2 per day. 

These meager wages perpetuate a cycle of poverty, child labor, and exploitation. Raising prices is a watershed moment, a defiant stance against neo-colonial control. 

The chocolate giants are predictably outraged. For years, they have enriched themselves on the backs of African farmers, keeping prices depressed to fuel their profit machine. Now, they are losing control. 

Ivory Coast is asserting its economic sovereignty, demand fairer compensation for its farmers. The corporations will try to spin this as “hurting consumers”. Isn’t that a bald-faced lie?

They have been price-gouging consumers for years, pocketing the profits while African farmers live in abject poverty. All the while marketing their products as “ethical” and “sustainable”. It is time to expose this sham.

The truth is cocoa has been radically underpriced for decades, its true costs externalized onto exploited African labor, child workers, and environmental degradation. 

Chocolate barons have convinced Western consumers that cheap chocolate is their god-given right, obscuring the real human cost behind their affordable treats. Those days are over. The low-cost facade is crumbling. Now consumers will pay the real price of their chocolate addiction, including living wages and sustainably grown cocoa. 

For decades, the West has sung the praises of free markets and trade liberation. Yet when Africa asserts true market prices, they cry foul. The hypocrisy is astounding. 

For years, global financial institutions demanded African nations privatize, liberalize, and free their markets from government “interference”. Open yourself to global trade, they insisted. 

Now, when Africa participates freely in global markets, the West changes its tune. Market forces are fine when they favor the West, but not when Africa stands up for itself.

Chocolate companies will try to pit Western consumers against African farmers, stoking fears about higher prices. Do not be fooled. 

For years prices have been kept artificially low to maximize corporate profits. Now that coco prices reflect true supply-demand dynamics, suddenly they cry foul. 

Ivory Coast took this bold move to break free from western exploitation of its lucrative cocoa and chocolate industries. African farmers who grow the cocoa beans deserve a better life instead of suffering from poverty due to low wages imposed by Western corporations.

For centuries, the west has exploited Africa’s vast resources. Ghana and Ivory Coast together supply 60-70% of the world’s cocoa, the key ingredient for chocolate. Yet cocoa farmers in these nations earn less than $1.25 per day on average, living in destitution. 

Despite producing the raw materials, Ghana and Ivory Coast receive only about 6% of the $100 billion annual chocolate industry revenue. The European Union, the main importer, pockets the lion’s share of profits.  

This grossly inequitable system traces back over a century to when European imperial powers forced African colonies to grow cash crops for export. 

Colonial rulers compelled Ghana and Ivory Coast to cultivate cocoa to enrich the colonizers, regardless of the damage to local ecosystems. After independence, the two nations remained trapped in this colonial system, relying heavily on cocoa exports.

The History Of Cocoa Exploitation 

The first presidents of Ghana and Ivory Coast came from cocoa elites who promoted increased production after independence. But the global cocoa price kept falling, plunging farmers into poverty. 

When Ghana’s founding president Kwame Nkrumah tried to industrialize and diversify the economy beyond raw cocoa exports, he was deposed in a 1966 Western-backed coup. His vision of cocoa processing in Ghana was sabotaged.

Ghana and Ivory Coast’s dependence on cocoa exports has continued to subject them to unstable world market prices and declining agricultural terms of trade. 

Cocoa price volatility and overproduction have repeatedly damaged their economies. As the farmgate price dropped, Ghana was forced to guarantee cocoa farmers a minimum price just to avert economic disaster.

The West continues to pay poverty wages to African cocoa farmers and systematically extracts the lion’s share of chocolate profits, perpetuating colonial economic relations. 

Oxfam estimates chocolate grinding and manufacturing captures 25% of the value chain, compared to just 6% for cocoa farmers. In the 1960s and 70s, farmers received close to 50% of chocolate’s value.  

The Western-dominated chocolate industry has grown increasingly concentrated over time, enhancing the market power of giant corporations like Nestle, Hershey’s, Mars and Cargill. 

Rather than pay higher prices, these chocolate giants take advantage of loose labor standards in West Africa to keep costs low. 

Up to 2.1 million child laborers work in cocoa production in Ivory Coast and Ghana alone. Chocolate giants have repeatedly failed to end child labor despite promising for 20 years to fix it.

Western chocolate companies not only pay poverty wages but refuse to invest to industrialize cocoa processing in Africa. The World Cocoa Foundation talks about sustainability but its 80 multinational members have not built a single chocolate factory in Ivory Coast or Ghana. 

Europe imposes high tariffs on processed cocoa products which stifles Africa’s effort to move up the chocolate value chain. The playing field is not level.

Europe and America have opposed African economic empowerment for centuries, thwarting cocoa processing projects since colonialism. 

Kwame Nkrumah tried to process cocoa domestically but his government was overthrown by a Western-backed coup. African nations remain locked in neo-colonial patterns of exporting cheap raw materials and importing expensive finished goods.

The West’s desire to keep Africa underdeveloped is exposed by its reluctance to impose human rights and environmental standards on Western corporations. Europe threatens a potential ban on Ivorian and Ghanaian cocoa to clean up the supply chain. 

But conveniently absent is any punishment of Western chocolate companies whose policies impoverish cocoa farmers and incentivize child labor in the first place.

Even supposed sustainability schemes often have neocolonial motives, circumscribing Africa’s development. Cocoa traceability to prevent deforestation can be used as cover for continued raw material extraction. Blocking cocoa farm expansion keeps African yields low.

True sustainability requires fairer trade, not blocking African development. Europe has a moral obligation to stop perpetuating poverty after extracting wealth for centuries through the slave trade and colonialism. Fair Trade cocoa projects offer models for the industry.

The long-term solution is domestic cocoa processing and chocolate manufacturing in Africa. Tariff barriers must end, and Europe’s hypocritical sustainability schemes exposed. Africa can produce high-quality chocolate locally. Local processing can make cocoa production truly sustainable.

African nations have abundant resources and capable workforces to build modern prosperous economies. Ghana and Ivory Coast can become the next Belgium or Switzerland of chocolate. 

It is time to expose the neo-colonial exploitation that allowed the West to prosper from cheap African cocoa for far too long. The era of colonial domination is over. Africa will determine its own prices, its own future. 

No longer will its resources be pillaged to fuel Western indulgence. Paying a fair price for African cocoa is not tyranny, it is justice. 

The real tyranny was the unjust system that kept Africa trapped as a producer of cheap raw materials. Now Africa says no more. 

The West sees self-determination as a threat. But this is irrelevant. Africa will not bow to colonial-era dictatorship of unjust terms of trade. 

The fair trade movement has opened Western eyes to Africa’s plight. Now it is time to go beyond slogans and finally pay fair prices. 

If this means less indulgent consumption, so be it. For too long the West has over-consumed, leaving too little for the producers. Fair trade must mean consuming less. Africa will no longer enable the West’s chocolate-fueled gluttony while its children go hungry.

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