Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The taste of a chocolate bar

silverqueen-chocolate.jpgI just ate a bar of chocolate tonight. I liked it a lot. It was sweet and little bitter. Dewi bought it this morning for twelve thousand rupiahs or around 1 US dollar. I know that a lot of people like chocolate. It is a favorite past time snack for young and old. I don't eat chocolate everyday. Maybe you eat chocolate every week or every day.

The price of a bar of Silver Queen chunky bar is getting more and more expensive but people keep on buying it. Silver Queen is an old player in chocolate business in Indonesia. I used to read in a blog that Malaysian conglomerate bought it. So, it is not an Indonesian company anymore. It's OK for me. In today's open economy anyone can have a company that is running overseas. That's the way the capitalism works.

Well, talking about chocolate and its rising price, I wonder if the farmers who grow the cocoa beans, the raw material for making chocolate bar, live a prosperous life from their cocoa farming. The price of cocoa beans in the world market has now been the highest one since two years ago. The soaring price of chocolate is caused by the inability of Gold Coast, an African state, to deliver the chocolate beans to the world market. Power struggle in the country creates political and economic instability. It seems that the situation in that country is not improving soon.

But Gold Coast is not the only country on earth that produces cocoa beans. Latin American states and South East Asian countries also produce significant amount of cocoa beans every year. With the soaring price of cocoa at the moment, the living condition of the cocoa farmers should be better. In fact, their condition remains the same.

I visited a village in Pami region of Manokwari West Papua. Farmers there did not harvest their cocoa. I tried to find the reason. Why they did not harvest the cocoa when the price of the beans is a record high for the past two or three years. Finally, I found out three reasons. The first was that their plants have been attacked by disease; second the farmers did not have trucks to deliver their harvest to buyers in the nearest town; and the third was the price which the buyers gave to them was low.

There has to be a fair trade mechanism for cocoa beans in West Papua and other cocoa producer regions that ensure the cocoa farmers get a better price for the commodity they produce. We, as the customers, should tell the chocolate factory maker to apply a fair trade mechanism in every route of cocoa trading.

This is only my personal opinion. It is sad to see that the taste of a bar of chocolate which was delicious in my mouth was strongly bitter for cocoa farmers living in the mountainous region of Asia, Africa and South America.

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