Support smallholder farmers, says chocolate company

G8 leaders are being asked to put the welfare of smallholder farmers at the top of their agenda when they meet in Northern Ireland next week.

The call has come from Divine Chocolate, a Fairtrade company owned by a co-operative of smallholder farmers in Ghana.

Divine's Managing Director Sophi Tranchell explains: "The world depends on smallholder farmers for 70% of our food. If these farmers are not paid enough to feed themselves and develop their farms, they cannot feed us.

"Divine has shown the value of moving farmers higher up the value chain, to ensure sustainable farming for the future, and giving farmers a greater stake in the industries they supply. We want to see innovative solutions like this to help ensure world food security for the future."

Divine will be delivering chocolate gifts to delegates at the G8 summit along with a specially designed message highlighting their call.

"Despite our dependency on them, smallholder farmers do not have a voice at the summit, so we are glad we have the opportunity to send this message," Tranchell added.

Divine Chocolate is taking part in the IF campaign rally in Hyde Park, where thousands of people will gather on Saturday to put pressure on G8 leaders over global hunger.

Divine will be handing out bags of chocolate coins during the rally to raise awareness about the situation of smallholder farmers and the need to pay them fairly and sustainably.

The IF campaign is demanding action to clamp down on tax evasion and land grabbing by large corporations, and asking governments to keep their promises on aid.

Tranchell continued: "Global business is increasingly responsible for disempowering smallholder farmers – removing their land, paying them below a sustainable level, and not paying tax that could be helping their national economies.

"We are about empowering these farmers, remunerating them fairly, and recognising that this and their stewardship of the land is what will ensure a sustainable food supply for everyone in the future."