Trade: the trading game
Play a whole-class roleplay game to see how cocoa trading works (based on Christain Aid's Chocolate Trading Game):
Planning the lesson
This role-play game is intended to give students a hands-on insight into the experiences of the different groups in the ‘chocolate production chain’ and will generate much activity, discussion and debate! Please note that this game simplifies the chocolate production chain for practical purposes; it is however a very valuable learning experience, and will give your students a great deal to think about and discuss very quickly!
Warning! This is a noisy game!
Your students will need space to form 10 groups and to move between them. You may like to clear most of the desks to the edge of the room, leaving just a semi-circle of chairs with one desk per group. Students must be able to get up and move around the room easily.
Divide the class into the following sized groups (for a class of 27–34 students). Some groups are repeats (e.g. Independent cocoa farmers). This is intentional: quite a few groups play the same role as each other.
Below is a list of the groups you will need your class to form:
Group 1 Fairtrade cocoa farmers
Group 2 Independent cocoa farmers
Group 3 Independent cocoa farmers
Group 4 Independent cocoa farmers
Group 5 The Fairtrade Chocolate Company
Group 6 The Big Chocolate Company
Group 7 Supermarket
Group 8 Supermarket
Group 9 The journalist
Group 10 The consumer
Allocate to each the resources listed beneath their group name (see Printout: The trading game: resources). Students may not have extra resources: the limitations imposed are supposed to replicate the limitations experienced by farmers/producers in real life!
Numbers of copies and distribution are indicated on the printout.
Explain to your students that their instructions are given to them on their role-play sheets, and that things will become clear once they start playing. Ask each group to write and display the name of their group so that other groups can identify them.
Briefly outline what each group does and that it’s to their advantage to find out what prices are being offered early on.
You may like to explain the following points:
- students don’t have money, just record sheets which act as tally cards
- no cheating or physical contact allowed!
- they are not allowed extra resources, but they may borrow the communal pencil sharpener
- there will be ‘seasons’ which will affect them all. You’ll give them two minutes’ notice before each change of season
- encourage students to start trading quickly, not to wait until they’ve produced as many beans as possible
- explain that they have to reproduce the beans/bars exactly as they are on their role play sheets, and that they must therefore cut them out and write/draw on them as specified (back to top)
Start the activity by giving students the first season card. The first season should run until most farmers have sold some cocoa beans to the cocoa-buying companies and the companies have had time to produce a few bars.
Every time you announce a new season, give them two minutes’ notice. Remind them to move to the next section on their record sheet at every change of season.
At Season 3, you will need to take away half of the remaining paper resources from each of the farmer groups, and half their unsold beans. Take half of the unsold bars from the chocolate-buying companies, too.
1. Find out which group made the most money
2. Ask the journalists to report on the game
3. Discuss what went on:
- who made the most money, and why?
- who made the least money, and why?
- who worked the hardest?
- what were the main problems for the farmers, for the production
- companies, the supermarkets, etc.?
- were trading alliances established?
- were any groups tempted to join together?
- what were the advantages of the yellow products compared to the brown?
- what was the impact of the changes in value of the products, etc.?
- what did these changes represent?
- how would consumers’ choices affect the chain?
- who had the power in the chain?
- how could the farmers earn more money/get more power?
- IS WORLD TRADE FAIR?
Summarise by running through the potential benefits of Fairtrade for cocoa farmers in Ghana:
- fair price for crop
- more money available
- investment in business
- improved quality and quantity of output
- education improvements
- investment in community
- health care improvements
- improved quality of life and opportunities
Ask students to write a short story from the point of view of a cocoa farmer about the cocoa trading system and its effect on daily life. (back to top)