Until three years ago Georgina worked for another cocoa company. ‘I don’t like to mention its name,’ she says. ‘But I realized the terms weren’t good for me because they just buy cocoa from the farmers. There’s nothing else. We worked for them just for commission. When I heard of Kuapa I decided to join, and it’s been really good for me.’
Georgina is a Recorder for the Kuapa Kokoo society in the village of Dominase, Dunkwa-Offin area, central Ghana. Her job is to develop the best-quality cocoa. She’s one of seven society officers elected every four years.
‘If a farmer likes me he can vote for me again to act as a Recorder,’ she says. ‘If he doesn’t, he has to overthrow me and find somebody else. One person cannot say: “I am a Recorder and I have to do it for good.” No. Everybody must be satisfied; women farmers and men farmers. When I was elected I won against a man. We understand the democratic rule in our company.’
Elizabeth Adjei, a farmer herself, from the Bawa Krom village society in the Dadieso area, western Ghana, agrees: ‘We co-operate together and the other companies can’t compete with us. So they don’t like us. We the farmers decide on how to use our income, how to share our profits.’
‘We Kuapa people always meet,’ says Georgina. ‘Everybody shares his or her own view about what is going on and what we must do. It works, because it helps bring people together.
A bonus of being a co-op is that Kuapa Kokoo fits with relative ease into the criteria for fair trade. Although this accounts for only a very small proportion of Kuapa’s total production, the benefits far exceed its relative size.
‘Fair trade has made a great difference,’ says Elizabeth. ‘We’ve got school buildings and toilet blocks and income-generating projects. That’s why we’re telling people they have to buy more fair trade.’
Kuapa Kokoo also owns a third of The Day Chocolate Company, which buys fair-trade cocoa from them and produces the Divine and Dubble brands in Britain. Kuapa’s President is a member of the Day Chocolate Company board.
For more information: http://www.divinechocolate.com and http://www.dubble.co.uk
This first appeared in our award-winning magazine - to read more, subscribe from just £7