The Chocolate Game gives pupils a taste of what life is like for people involved in production of the world's favourite confection, reports Susan Pape
Chocolate given away at the end of a lesson might do wonders for attendance levels, but at a school in Leeds it has an important role in teaching youngsters about fair trade in a global market.
The story of chocolate - where it comes from, how it is made and how it reaches our shops - is part of the Chocolate Game designed by Leeds Development Education Centre and launched this month with a group of 15-year-old pupils at Abbey Grange CE High School.
The game looks at families involved in the global chocolate industry - from Ghana, Belize, Brazil and the UK - and shows how their lives are linked through the economic systems governing the trade. It also shows how fair trade works by highlighting the benefits to families involved in fair trade co-operatives.
Participants choose a family to represent and, using role play, consider how real-life questions and dilemmas - such as crop disease or a drop in world cocoa prices due to overproduction - affect that family. Teacher's notes prompt questions about how the trade works and who controls it.
Few cocoa-producing countries can afford the investment in plant required to make the finished product - or the 30 per cent tariff on processed chocolate entering the European Union.
Adam Ranson of Leeds DEC says the game raises issues about inequality, wealth, poverty and power. "It points out that people who often suffer in traditional trading systems can benefit from fair trade."
The pupils are joined by two farmers from the Ghanaian cocoa co-operative Kuapa Kokoo, which includes more than 30,000 farmers.
Cocoa from the co-operative is used to make Divine chocolate, launched by the Day Chocolate company in London.
One of the farmers, Kwabena Ohemeng, says that under the fair trade system, members are guaranteed a minimum price for their cocoa so avoiding the worst effects of fluctuations in the market. "In the past when the government had a monopoly on the cocoa industry, growers were paid badly and, in a bad year, they suffered even more. With the cooperative we have our destiny in our own hands. We take a share of the profits and have a much better standard of living," he says.
* The largest producer of cocoa beans is Cote d'Ivoire, followed by Ghana, Brazil and Indonesia' Nigeria, Cameroun, Malaysia.
* The main consumers of chocolate are Switzerland, Germany, Norway and UK.
* The main producers are Mars and Hershey, which account for 75 per cent of chocolate sales in US; Cadbury, Nestle, and Mars account for 75 per cent of sales in the UK.
* Most producers of cocoa in Ghana have never tasted chocolate.
Source: New Internationalist August 1998