Set up in 1993 in Ghana, Kuapa Kokoo is a cocoa farmer’s cooperative which translates simply to ‘Good Cocoa Farming’. In 1995, Kuapa Kokoo received their Fair Trade certification and have been supplying to Fair Trade buyers and manufacturers ever since.
This is the largest cooperative in Ghana, with over 45,000 members in more than 1,000 villages – it also supplies 10% of Ghana’s cocoa.
They formed a partnership with Twin Trading in the UK, to set up the Day Chocolate Company. Now, it is known as Divine Chocolates.
Kuapa Kokoo seeks to develop itself into a formidable farmer-based organisation capable of mobilising quality cocoa products, improving the livelihood of members and satisfying customers.
Kuapa Kokoo has four sub groups – The Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union (KKFU), empowering producers; encouraging female participation in all levels of the decision-making process; they also encourage environmentally sustainable farming and production methods for cocoa.
Kuapa Kokoo Limited deals with the commercial side of the Farmers’ Union.
Importantly, Kuapa Kokoo have set up a Farmers Trust (KKFT) and a Credit Union (KKCU). The Farmers Trust is in charge of collecting Kuapa Kokoo’s Fair Trade premiums and other monies. This is then used to equip the community, provide infrastructure and take care of the farmers.
The Credit Union is there to help farmers with their finances – it shows them how to manage a host of savings schemes and gives all farmers access to microcredit lending schemes.
Kuapa Kokoo also makes sure that it invests in projects from which the entire community will benefit – not just members of the cooperative. In recent years, they have completed projects dealing with health and safety, education and empowerment.
Several communities have benefited from pump wells. Societies such as Adansi Koforidua who hitherto struggled for portable water can now conveniently pump clean drinking water from their pump wells.
Kuapa organises periodic mobile clinics in its societies. Doctors and medical staff are taken to the doorstep of the farmer for check-ups and training on preventive techniques to avoid diseases.
Kuapa has built (KVIP (Kumasi ventilated improved pit)) styled toilets in communities such as Bipoa, Twifo Wamaso, Abenabena Nyamebekyere to mention but a few providing a decent and convenient way to dispose-off human waste.
Many schools were also built – a primary to junior high school serves 10 nearby villages. More schools have been built in six other villages, serving a host of communities within and around them. Cultural exchange programs have been set up with British schools, through the help of Trading Visions, a British NGO. Children participate in camps, variety shows, webcasts and exchange visits. Many of these students have also visited the UK – and British students have spent time in Ghanian communities as well.
Kuapa Kokoo also recognises the importance of their communities knowing many skills and trades. It has invested “in corn mills and palm oil extractors, training in soap making, batik etc…Women are at the centre of these programmes since we at Kuapa believe that an empowered woman means an empowered family. Several of our members feel empowered and they now believe they have a voice in the most important decisions that affect them. Some members have travelled to Europe and the US as ambassadors of this model, speaking on grand platforms on the benefits of belonging to the union.”