Not only is Deborah Osei Mensah a cocoa farmer at the Asunafo North Farmers Union, she is also a Livelihood Development Officer, leader of the union’s Monitoring and Evaluation Team and Fairtrade Youth Ambassador.
“My cooperative produces cocoa and includes close to 10,000 cocoa farmers from 67 communities. I’m currently the Operations Manager in charge of child protection, gender and livelihood issues. Fairtrade has transformed me. While I used to be shy, I am now more confident both in my farming business and life. I’ve also seen first-hand the evolving business side of cocoa. In my role with Asunafo, I am honored to help train other women to diversify their incomes beyond cocoa, and I am working to achieve my Masters of Science in Environment, Water and Sustainability from the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Ghana to be able to help my community better mitigate the challenges of climate change. My community and I ask for businesses to commit to supporting farmers in producing your cocoa and offer a fair deal; for consumers to be conscious about what they are consuming. Be fair, purchase fair and, with that, make the future fair – there’s just one world and we should be supporting each other within it.”
You can hear more from Deborah in her recent Q&A – here.
Deborah inspires us.
Deborah’s commitment to farming sustainably, to supporting her fellow cocoa farmers, and to advocating for climate action inspire us. To raise awareness on the importance of fair trading practices and shed light on how this connects to protecting our environment, we collaborated with Alex Chiu to create a mural at the People’s Food Co-op in Portland, Oregon – where you can also conveniently find Fairtrade certified Tony’s Chocolonely chocolate bars!
Alex Chiu is a Chinese-American painter and muralist currently living in Portland, OR. With a background in illustration and comics, he approaches public artwork as a form of visual storytelling. Much of his artwork involves incorporating community input and collaboration. The goal of his work is to accurately document local history and help communities to explore cultural identity through a creative process.
Tony’s Chocolonely is an impact company that makes chocolate. Putting social impact before profit — Tony’s Chocolonely’s vision is to make chocolate 100% slave free. Not just their own chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide.
The company was founded in 2005 by 3 journalists from the Dutch TV show ‘Keuringsdienst van Waarde’ after they discovered that the world’s largest chocolate manufacturers were buying cocoa from plantations that used illegal child labor and modern slavery.
Since then, Tony’s Chocolonely has dedicated its efforts to raising awareness of and eliminating inequality in the chocolate industry. Tony’s Chocolonely leads by example, building direct, long-term relationships with cocoa farmers in Ghana and Ivory Coast, paying them a higher price and working together to solve the underlying causes of modern slavery.
Peoples Food Co-op in Portland, OR
People’s Food Co-op is a collectively-managed, community-owned, vegetarian food co-op that has been nourishing Portland since 1970. Prioritizing local and organic groceries, People’s offers a vast selection of bulk foods, herbs, teas, personal care and home care products; a bounty of organic and local produce; and ethically sourced grocery and perishable products. People’s Food Co-op cultivates strong relationships with the food we eat, the people who produce it, and the friends and family we share it with. It strives to buy directly from farmers and food producers whenever possible, and believes that these healthy connections fortify the local economy. They are committed to safe and sustainable growing and manufacturing practices and work to minimize impact on the earth. Being a cooperative means People’s is owned by the people who shop and work at the store, and focus first on serving the needs of the community.
This mural is located at the People’s Food Co-op at 3029 Southeast 21st Avenue in Portland, Oregon.