Growing our cocoa, raising our voices

Growing our cocoa, raising our voices

By
23 March 2016

Léocadie Voho is a cocoa farmer from Ivory Coast. Together with 23 other female farmers, researchers, film makers and the Fairtrade organisation she realised that trade was, after all, not fair. By filming her story, she learned how to make change.

Photo: Margriet Goris
Photo: Margriet Goris

“My name is Léocadie Voho. I am 51 years old. I have seven children and 11 granddaughters. I live in Tienhoula, a prefecture of Duékoué, in west Ivory Coast. When I joined 24 other female cocoa farmers in discussing our position as women in our country’s certified cocoa sector, we could really see our situation with new eyes.

We worked with researchers, film makers and the Fairtrade organization to make a film about our work and our lives. We first started filling in a seasonal calendar, including our daily schedule. When we compared our calendars, we realised that we really work a lot. But then we saw that the real problem is not how much we work but the price of cocoa and the money we get for it. When we sell the cocoa, I should have my share to feed my family. But the men sell the cocoa and I get nothing. Trade isn’t fair after all.

We learned how to shoot with the video camera, and how to make a script. We made a script about our experience with cocoa and how the money doesn’t make it home. It was in making this film that we realised we could change the situation. In practice it means talking to your husband or son about the changes you want. We also want to persuade the men to let us have our own land to cultivate – that would make a difference!

Making this film gave us the opportunity to discuss our possibilities with each other, and with different kinds of people with different ideas. I hope that this film can motivate and mobilise all the women in our situation to make changes in their lives. By sharing our experiences about our situation in cocoa production we created new knowledge together about how to make change. We not only learned how to film but also how to raise our voices.”

Interview by Margriet Goris, independent researcher at Wageningen University (The Netherlands) and documentary film maker.

Watch Léocadie Voho and other female cocoa farmers in their self-made film ‘Growing our Cocoa, Raising our Voices’