In Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, cocoa is king. But life is hard for many of the farmers in West Africa who grow nearly 60 percent of the world’s supply. They’re poorly paid for what they grow. In late 2016, the price of cocoa crashed. Extreme poverty is rife. It’s even harder for the women who work in the fields, and at home, but often see little of the profit. But a new crop of women cocoa farmers are growing in courage and standing tall with men. Together, they’re asking a simple question: don’t we deserve more?
It’s 5am and Généviève Yapipko is already awake. She sweeps the front yard of her house, prepares breakfast for her family then takes up a machete to tend to her waiting cocoa trees. Généviève isn’t your usual farmer. In fact, in a country where one in six people depend on cocoa for a living, to meet a woman who owns and runs her farm is slightly unusual.
‘If you’re not courageous then you cannot own a cocoa farm,’ Généviève says. And she’s not wrong. It’s not just the physical demands of running a farm and a family that require that particular brand of strength. Or, for women at least, traversing the well-worn furrows ploughed deep in communities traditionally dominated by men.
Perhaps most of all, to be a cocoa farmer is to brave a volatile cocoa market that, in Côte d’Ivoire, is leaving the average farmer living on around 74p a day.
It’s women who carry the heaviest burden, often with fewer rights than men.
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