In the early 1990′s, the structural adjustment program involved the liberalisation of the cocoa market in Ghana. A number of leading farmers, including a visionary farmer representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, Nana Frimpong Abrebrese, came to realise that they had the opportunity to organize farmers, to take on the internal marketing function.
These farmers pooled resources to set up Kuapa Kokoo, a farmers’ co-op, which would trade its own cocoa, and thus manage the selling process more efficiently than the government cocoa agents. Kuapa Kokoo – which means good cocoa growers – has a mission to empower farmers in their efforts to gain a dignified livelihood, to increase women’s participation in all of Kuapa’s activities, and to develop environmentally friendly cultivation of cocoa.
The farmers who own Divine Chocolate have been very driven and proactive about developing their organisation. They have grown the membership – now 65,000 from 1400 village societies – and worked on internal systems to better manage and track such a huge widespread membership. They have invested the Fairtrade premium in developing farming communities and farming skills – focusing particularly on water, health, education and sanitation to improve standards of living. Kuapa Kokoo has also taken a lead on addressing child labour, and is piloting a number of environmental initiatives aimed at improving productivity and adapting to climate change. The Divine dividends have been invested in Kuapa Kokoo’s business, and enabled farmers to have a new machete for each year’s harvest. Today Kuapa Kokoo proudly produces 5% of Ghana’s cocoa – that’s about 640,000 sacks of cocoa!