Cocoa co-operatives means guilt-free hot chocolate

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Cocoa farmers on the small African island of São Tomé in the Gulf of Guinea used to struggle to make a living. They were getting a very low price as they had to sell their cocoa by the roadside to middle men.

Individual farmers were trapped because they lacked the money and expertise to process the raw cocoa into higher value chocolate products and they had no direct access to international markets.

But in 2009 they were given support to form a cooperative. By joining together, the farmers' lives have been transformed. This was made possible by the UK Department for International Development's £1.9 million fund, called the Food Retail Industry Challenge Fund (FRICH), British company Cafédirect and the UN.

FRICH awarded a £43,000 grant to Cafédirect, which itself invested £94,000.

Cafédirect worked with the farmers to set up their cooperative, and the money paid for essential equipment such as drying tables and tractors. The Fairtrade instant hot chocolate drink is selling in the UK for the first time this winter.

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