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Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa (African Arguments) Paperback – February 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Series: African Arguments
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books (January 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1848130058
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848130050
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,960,224 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'Orla's Chocolate Nations is a captivating read, painting a lively picture of the West African cocoa trade from a variety of perspectives. It casts a critical eye over the role played by governments and multinationals, while also putting fair trade and child slavery campaigns in perspective. It gives us all a good deal more to think about when we eat "the food of the gods".' - Daniel Balint Kurti at Global Witness 'I gave up eating chocolate years ago after seeing at first hand the exploitation that surrounds its production in Africa. Since then, endless panaceas and fair trading schemes have failed to improve the lot of the farmers. It was about time a book like this was written.' - Stephen Chan OBE, author of The End of Certainty

About the Author

Orla Ryan is a freelance journalist based in London. She previously worked for the BBC, and as a journalist in Africa. In recent years she worked for Reuters in Ghana, where, among other stories, she covered the West African cocoa sector. 

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kwei Quartey on November 16, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am so glad that I read this book. In preparing to write an article for the Huffington Post about chocolate and cocoa, I was introduced to issues about which I had previously had no knowledge. A couple other reviewers have given good summaries, so I won't attempt to add, but I want to say that if you are a chocolate consumer or anyone with an interest in how this crazy world works (or doesn't), I recommend you read this. Every couple pages I found myself thinking, "Oh! Really?" every time I came across a new piece of information. The book is short, so not having enough time to read it is no excuse. (I don't have any time either, but I read it.) Once you've done that, you'll never buy or think about chocolate in the same way as before. You'll understand the history behind that delicious nibble. I for one will now buy only Omanhene chocolate, one of the few brands actually made in Ghana, the second largest cocoa bean producer in the world. One of the most interesting aspects of the book is Ryan's examination of the fair trade issue. Think it's simple? Yes, I thought so too. I was wrong.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Noli Me Tangere on April 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I have an unusual problem with reviewing this book: It is so intensely thought-provoking I'm having trouble just telling you what's actually in it. When I type, I start wildly drifting into my own tangents.

Let me start with this, which I never knew before: Most of the world's cocoa comes from Ghana and the Ivory Coast, and nearly all of it is cultivated by hand on small, family-operated farms. It is the last of the global crops to be cultivated this way, and it represents the largest portion of each country's wealth. To buy chocolate - even those convenience-store staples from Hershey, Cadbury and Mars - is to directly connect with its harvesters in West Africa. After reading this book, I developed a respect and appreciation for the common Hershey's bar that I had until now reserved for the produce at my local farmer's market.

Orla Ryan is a former Reuters reporter who covered the cocoa industry in Ghana and Ivory Coast before taking leave to publish this book. Because I feel a tangent coming on, I'll be quick: This is an exceptionally readable, comprehensive, smart and objective book that smashes any assumptions you may have been making since I told you it was about poor African farmers harvesting most of the world's chocolate with hand tools. I recommend it to anyone interested in journalism (for the way it presents information that I suspect will leave the farmers, consumers and chocolatiers feeling they have been portrayed fairly) business and commodities trading (for the way it analyzes a whole commodity market from the soil to the store) and social activism (for ideas in how to identify and implement policy changes that will actually reach the poor, as this author has tried to do).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on April 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
Orla Ryan is a Financial Times journalist who previously worked for Reuters in Ghana, where she reported on cocoa for its general and financial news service. In this book she attempts to cast a factual, dispassionate and objective eye on the cocoa trade in Africa; adopting an analytical rather than an emotional approach. There are eight chapters in this short (160 page) but heavy-hitting work. The first two look at the contrasting histories of cocoa growing in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. This is followed by a chapter that examines the extent to which child labour is used on cocoa farms, and the distinction between child and slave labour. The fourth chapter concentrates on corruption in Cote d'Ivoire and the fate of journalist Guy Andre, a man who asked too many questions about where cocoa money was disappearing to. The fifth chapter looks at the practical trials and tribulations of Steve Wallace, an American with a dream to produce chocolate in Ghana, including the very real physical location and structural difficulties of operating there. Chapter six seeks to separate the "myths and reality" of the various fair trade approaches to cocoa growing and buying, while the penultimate chapter examines how the cocoa trade really works - a complicated set of power dynamics involving global corporates, country cocoa boards and cocoa speculators, but rarely cocoa farmers themselves. The final chapter looks forward to how to create a sustainable future for a cocoa industry which is struggling to meet world demand, where cocoa farmers often struggle to survive and where, in consequence, the younger generation do not want to enter the business.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Great overview of cocoa industry in Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire, addressing both similarities and differences, achievements and challenges, with nuanced explanation of benefits and limitations of FairTrade.
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An interesting read on the west African chocolate industry and how it works. Very interesting I felt it dragged at points but all and all, very informative!
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