On the eve of Fairtrade Fortnight, we meet the female farmers fighting for trade justice who face an uncertain future

Asking about the importance of cocoa in Ivory Coast feels a little like making enquiries about the value of grapes in Burgundy. When I put the question to N’Zi Kanga Rémi, who has for the last 18 years beengovernor of the rural department of Adzopé, north-east of the sprawling port city of Abidjan, he leaned forward in his chair and fixed me with an amused stare.

His booming voice went up a decibel to fill the administrative offices on whose walls his own portrait alternated with that of his nation’s president. “It doesn’t make sense to ask an Ivorian what cocoa means to him!” he said. “It means everything! It’s his first source of income! My education was funded by cocoa! Our houses are built with cocoa! The foundations of our roads, our schools, our hospitals is cocoa! Our government runs on cocoa! All our policy focuses on sustaining cocoa!”

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