In This Review

Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa (African Arguments)
Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa (African Arguments)
By Orla Ryan
Zed Books, 2011, 176 pp

Small farmers in West Africa produce most of the world’s cocoa and sell it at low prices to big companies such as Cadbury and Mars, who transform the beans into chocolate. Ryan focuses on Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, the two countries that together produce half the world’s cocoa output. Large numbers of West Africans rely on cocoa for their livelihoods, she shows, and politicians have long used revenues tied to cocoa exports to retain their holds on power. Reformers have expressed concern about industry practices, and Ryan ably discusses such issues as child labor on cocoa farms and the debates around free trade. She argues that an even greater source of concern is the long-term environmental sustainability of current approaches to cocoa production, and she advances the notion that chocolate prices might spike in the not-too-distant future.