The majority of the cocoa is produced on small family farms in tropical countries. These farmers are not educated or market savvy. Cocoa is their only cash crop and they are taken advantage of by middlemen. These farmers that work so hard to produce our favorite crop, live in atrocious conditions. They can barely provide food for their families, leave aside educate their children or provide health care.
Fair Trade is an international organization with TransFair being their USA arm (you can visit the TransFair USA website trough our links) Fair Trade encourages these farmers to form cooperatives and market their product directly without middlemen. Fair Trade certifies the cooperatives, educates them in sustainable farming and helps them increase their income by making sure that they are paid a proper price for their products, so they can live a dignified life. TransFair in USA certifies the importers and processors who sell Fair Trade products. The Fair Trade seal on the package ensures that the product you are using is certified and that the farmers are fairly compensated. The Fair Trade organization also carries out many other projects, such as education and health promotion. Visit their website for more information.
It is better to pay the farmers a fair price for their product than to force them into the production of illegal drugs, or to give them handouts to help them financially without dignity.