On my recent trip to Ghana, I visited two cocoa farming communities who are part of Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative set up and owned by cocoa farmers. It provides the cocoa used to make Divine Chocolate, which you may well have enjoyed.
Kuapa Kokoo started in 1993 with 5 farmers but is now a huge enterprise with 87,907 farmers based in 1,241 villages in Ghana. They appeared well-organised and well-motivated to maintain fair trade principles with a Farmers’ Trust of elected members from all areas, who decide how the fair trade premium should be spent. Amongst other projects, they have built schools, health clinics and business development centres. The premium is also used to run a Credit Union, which has helped women to diversify by selling handicrafts, mainly tie-dye and batik fabrics, to supplement their income from cocoa farming. This had helped one of the women we met in a remote village to pay for her daughter to go to a nurse training college.
Kuapa Kokoo works hard to prevent child labour. It has a community taskforce who report any signs of children working and if they are found, then Kuapa Kokoo will not buy cocoa from the farmer involved, until they have been through a re-training procedure and found to change their practice.
Instead, education for children is promoted, although children may visit the farms in order to learn the skills of cocoa farming. Esther was an articulate woman working for Kuapa Kokoo, who acted as our guide and interpreter on our visits and she told us that she is the daughter of a cocoa farmer and that fair trade paid for her education. The message that the cocoa farmers wanted to give us is that fair trade gives them dignity, and by promoting it, we show them that we care about their poverty.
If you would like to support fair trade, then please come along to our next event, a FAIR TRADE BIG BREW on Saturday 28th February at Thackley Methodist Church (Thackley Road, BD10 0RH) from 10am to 12pm, an event held in conjunction with Fairtrade Fortnight (23rd February to 8th March 2015).
Ruth H, Calverley