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by Zoë Pollock

David Ralph reviews Chocolate Nations: Living And Dying For Cocoa In West Africa, by Órla Ryan. Cocoa is Ghana's biggest export and largest source of foreign revenues:

Arriving in the village of Larwehkrom on one visit, Ryan is first struck by the intense chocolaty aroma hanging in the air, as small brown beans dry on reed trays outside every house. But getting the beans onto the trays is a labour-intensive process. They have to be carefully plucked from cocoa pods, after the trees have been pruned, weeded, watered and tended to for months beforehand. And the sweet smell cannot mask the poverty running through the region: children in rags, rutted roads, filthy boreholes and frequent power cuts are common. … Chocolate is, of course, a big business, but for every €1 spent at the retail end on a Twix, Kit Kat or Hersheys, the farmer in rural Ghana receives a mere four cent.

(Photo: a Ghanian girl eats a Dubble Fair Trade chocolate bar, by crankyshooter1)