Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union
The members of Kuapa Kokoo are predominantly poor small-holders living in the most remote and under-resourced parts of the country. Many cocoa-growing villages do not have potable water, paved roads, health clinics, motorized transportation or electricity. Most villages lack basic schools, educational materials and teachers. Some farmers are able to grow plantain, coco yam, cassava and vegetables for home consumption, and plantain, oranges and palm fruits for sale at local markets. However, the soil on many cocoa farms is too poor to grow other crops so this cultivation incurs more costs and preparation. Apart from basic education, there are no free social services in Ghana. Farmers must pay for services like health care and secondary education.
In this context, Kuapa Kokoo represents a unique empowerment effort that enables small cocoa farmers to have a voice in cooperative governance and attain more information on their negotiations with cocoa buyers. Kuapa Kokoo is made up of an estimated 1,300 village societies that elect committees and representatives at a regional level, who in turn elect representatives to the National Union. This Union represents farmers’ interests to government and industry officials and reports valuable information back to its members.
Kuapa Kokoo has been Fair Trade Certified™ since 1996. Fair Trade is helping the cooperative develop a strong and democratic institutional framework. It is helping farmers, especially women, empower themselves, build confidence and independence, and ensure a sense of community participation and ownership. Kuapa Kokoo now owns about 45 percent of Divine Chocolate Ltd. and 33 percent of Divine Chocolate USA, Inc., which sell Fair Trade Certified Divine and Dubble chocolates in the UK and U.S. This unique venture allows Kuapa Kokoo’s members to increase their profits from the value-added sales of chocolate and enhance their knowledge of the western chocolate markets in which their beans end up.
We have taken our destiny into our own hands. Through Fair Trade and the cooperative, we have seen much progress. We have good drinking water, toilet facilities and schools. Kuapa Kokoo pays the farmers on time and there is no cheating when cocoa is weighed. We meet every two weeks to share our problems. We are able to generate extra income through our soap and palm oil production, which helps us through difficult months. We can also take out loans, individually or in groups, through the Kuapa Credit Union. ”
Fair Trade enables farmers to have their own institution to trade, ensuring their independence from exploitive intermediaries. Our farmer-owned institution, for example, provides higher prices than Ghana's government guaranteed price. End of the year bonuses and other incentives also motivate farmers towards generating more sales. ”
Things you may take for granted are hard to come by in Ghana. Fair Trade is good to the farmer and makes us happy. We would like to sell more cocoa on Fair Trade terms so more farmers and families can taste a better life. ”
Mobile Vans for Education
Kuapa Kokoo purchased two mobile home cinema vans as part of the farmers' education program to reach more students.
Training sessions on the best agricultural practices, management and leadership techniques, and HIV/AIDS awareness were organized with Fair Trade premium funds.
Schools and Day Care Centers
The cooperative has built four local schools and two day care centers.