>> The world's chocolate industry is worth 120 billion pounds a year, and demand for the sweet treat is constantly on the rise. But the future of those who produce cocoa is looking bleak, as low pay and poor living conditions are threatening a whole way of life.>> I'm Reuters reporter, Mia Wonsley at the London Chocolate Forum, the world's biggest convention for the industry.
As the 2016 harvest gets underway, one fair trade farmer from the Ivory Coast has come here to warn that cocoa communities desperately need development as some live on as little as $2 a day.>> Fortin Bley chair of the Fairtrade West Africa producer network.>>
It's difficult for them to improve their living conditions to get access to drinking water and to send their children to school.>> The average age of cocoa farmers in West Africa is 51. Farmers' children returning instead to more profitable crops or heading for the cities to find more dependable livelihood.
>> Who's going to replace us? I don't think it will be my child, I don't think anyone else should come to take over. They asked me to produce, produce, produce but my son, what's he going to do tomorrow? He wants to farm cocoa but he wants to do better than I've done.
That's why we need to get everyone involved in the conversation. We have to find the fair price for cocoa so that communities could make a living.>> The Fairtrade Foundation is doing what it can to help. For example, guaranteeing minimum prices. But without more investment and improved sustainability, a whole generation of cocoa growers could be lost.
Fortin though, hasn't given up hope.>> Farming cocoa is a labor of love for us. It's what our parents' did, we inherited our skills from them. As long as we are all alive, we'll produce cocoa. But please, don't leave us helpless. Don't leave us in poverty. Our children need to study, our women need good healthcare.
We need access to drinking water, we need to live. That's what's important, and to talk and ask people to listen to us.>>