The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many changes in the daily lives of people from all around the world. Video streaming on social media platforms has shown people rushing into grocery stores and stocking up on canned food and toilet paper. Colleges have abruptly transferred to online education via Zoom and other video conferencing tools. About 16 million Americans have lost their jobs since the start of lockdowns across the country. Small businesses and local stores still struggle to keep their businesses afloat.
The cacao bean, once thought a divine food by the Aztecs that imparted wisdom, is now considered by its farmers the curse of “brown gold.” The curse itself is easy to understand: manufacturers like Hershey’s and Nestlé must sell cheap chocolate to make a profit, and where else to cut costs but at the very bottom of this food chain? There, we find the cacao farmers of the Ivory Coast. These impoverished Ivorian farmers supply 40% of the world’s total supply of cacao beans alone. Despite playing such a dominant role in the global chocolate industry, the Ivory Coast benefits little from its position and does not have the leverage required to raise the prices of cacao exports to support its workers.