all that jazz

james' blog about scala and all that jazz

Cocoa Petition

If you've been following my Facebook, Twitter or Google Buzz updates, you may have noticed I've asked for feedback from beta testers to check that a website I've been developing displays in all browsers. This has been a project I've done in my spare time, and I thought I'd blog about it, to increase both public awareness and Google ranking :)

The website is Cocoa Petition, a petition to the Australian Government to set a date by which importing of cocoa products that involve unacceptable forms of child labour in the production process must be ended.

The problem

Chocolate Labourer

The use of child labour in cocoa production is a little known but massive problem. It is estimated that nearly 300 000 children work on the cocoa farms of the Ivory Coast in West Africa, working long hours in dangerous conditions such as spraying pesticides and wielding machetes with no protection, without the opportunity to go to school. In many cases, the children are working on their family farms, but there are also a significant proportion that are working as slaves. It is estimated that over 10 000 child slaves are trafficked into the Ivory Coast each year to work on the cocoa farms.

Evidence for this unacceptable child labour can be found on the Cocoa Petition website, but perhaps the most compelling evidence is that in 2001, an voluntary agreement called the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed by many of the major chocolate producers, including Nestlé and Mars/M&M, acknowledging the existence of unacceptable child labour in cocoa production. Since then, little has been done by these companies about the problem.

The solution

Fairtrade Logo

There is however at least one solution to the problem, that is the Fairtrade branding. Fairtrade products guarantee that the farmers and farm workers are paid fairly for their work, and ensures that no unacceptable child labour is used in the production process. In 2009, Cadbury announced that from Easter 2010, all Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate sold in Australia and New Zealand will be Fairtrade. This is great progress, but as a first step to eradicating the use of unacceptable child labour in cocoa production, we need to make sure that no such cocoa is imported into Australia by any company.

Hence, this petition. Australian laws are clear that importing products that are produced by slaves is illegal, however, the Australian government has so far remained ignorant to the problem.

My involvement

So, why would I donate my time and efforts to this cause? The reason is simple. As a Christian, I believe that one of the most important things to God is justice. In the book of Isaiah, which my Bible study group is looking at at the moment, God pleads with Israel to turn from doing wrong, so that he doesn't have to judge them, saying

Stop doing wrong,
learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.
Isaiah 1:17-18 (NIV)

African children working as slaves to produce chocolate so that Australian children can satisfy their sweet teeth is as far from just as I can think. So, this is a cause that I really believe I should be fighting for. If you feel the same way as I do over this injustice, then please, visit the Cocoa Petition site, and get involved.

Fair Trade Coffee in the Sydney CBD

I've chosen the title of this blog post very deliberately because I want people who are looking for fair trade coffee in the Sydney CBD to be able to find something when they search Google for it.

Fair Trade Logo

I started working in the city a week ago, and one of my first tasks has been to find a coffee shop that sells fair trade coffee. Of course, there are the big chains, including Starbucks, which incidentally is participating in fair trade fortnight in May, and Jamaica Blue, with its fair trade blend. But neither of those is really that close to my office, and I've never really liked the coffee from the big chains as much as I do from the small cafes. So I did a search in Google to see what I could find.

I was quite disappointed. I couldn't find any lists of cafes anywhere, apart from the Oxfam website, and the Fair Trade Association website. And the only cafes in the CBD they had were Starbucks and Jamaica Blue.

After searching a little harder, I found the voodoo coffee company, which supplies a number of cafes in the Sydney CBD, and they have a fair trade blend. I've emailed them asking them which stores they sell fair trade coffee to, but I read that on occasion, Pulse Cafe on Kent Street (right near my work) has sold the fair trade blend.

Does anyone know of any other cafes in the Sydney CBD that sell fair trade coffee?

Update

I tried out Pulse this morning, and found that they only sell fair trade coffee. Not only that, but the coffee was really good, and only $2.50. So my mission is accomplished. However feel free to add comments of other fair trade coffee places you know of so we can make a comprehensive list.

About

Hi! My name is James Roper, and I am a software developer with a particular interest in open source development and trying new things. I program in Scala, Java, PHP, Python and Javascript, and I work for Lightbend as a developer on Lagom. I also have a full life outside the world of IT, am a passionate Christian, enjoy playing a variety of musical instruments and sports, and currently I live in Canberra.

I also have a another blog called Roped In about when my wife and I lived in Berlin for a year to help a church reconnect with its city.