Dubble bubble

16th March 2001 at 00:00
As the first bars of Dubble went on sale in the UK last October, passionate speeches were being made on a desiccated football field in the village of Effudrassi in Ghana to honour the new public lavatory, writes Rosie Walford. After each speech, the villagers chanted "papapaa", a rallying cry to celebrate the improvements the chocolate bar has brought. For it is fair trade sales of cocoa that have paid for the shiny new latrine.

Effudrassi is home to independent cocoa growers who have joined the farmers' co-operative Kuapa Kokoo. The co-op supplies cocoa to the Day Chocolate company, which produces Dubble. The world price for cocoa recently fell to its lowest for 24 years, but Effudrassi farmers can command an extra pound;466 per tonne for the cocoa beans they sell to Dubble because "progress, not profit" is the company motto. On top of this, Kuapa Kokoo receives an extra pound;100 per tonne, which is distributed to local community projects.

Although Dubble is still a new player on the confectionery shelf, absorbing barely 2 per cent of Effudrassi's total crop, 80 per cent of local families farm cocoa, so it makes a difference.

Effudrassi has one main street, and ide roads leading to scant cassava patches and the cocoa fields. The village is poor and houses lack pipe-borne water, but the guaranteed contract with Dubble is already allowing for modest investments in community ventures.

Exuberant women in big dresses sell soap they have made by burning cocoa husks to potash in old tractor wheelhubs. Their training was paid for by fair trade premiums.

In Effudrassi school, Dubble also makes its mark. A co-ordinator downloads the Dubble website at Kuapa's offices in Kumasi city, 50km south, then brings a laptop to the classroom. The children get fleeting contact with computers and real British people. "When I told my granny that I was in contact with white people she said I was lying," says one 12-year-old girl. "Then I explained fair trade to my mother and she understood." The Dubble link certainly gives the cocoa-growers' children a sense that there's a future in farming.

When the class see their pictures on Dubble's web pages, their self-respect swells. "My pictures go into the computer, then people all over the world see me, daughter of a cocoa farmer, and how our cocoa makes Dubble," says one student.

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