The power of Fairtrade chocolate

Success stories, In the field, Ethical trading & business, Oxfam Shop article written on the 22 Apr 2014

Photo: Cam Cope/Oxfam AUS

“Kuapa Kookoo” is the only farmer owned cocoa cooperative in Ghana and supplier of cocoa used in the Oxfam So Fair So Good range available at Oxfam Shop. Kuapa has invested in the communities where the union has local chapters to incredible results.

When internal marketing of cocoa was liberalized in Ghana, a group of farmers led by Nana Frimpong Abrebrese established Kuapa Kokoo as a farmer’s cooperative in 1993 with assistance from Twin Limited UK . Two years later, the union received its first Fairtrade certification.

Kuapa Kookoo simply means Good Cocoa Farming, and it’s easy to see why.

What sets Kuapa Kokoo apart from all other players in the cocoa buying industry in Ghana are the social projects. Kuapa has  invested several millions of Ghana Cedis in the communities where the union has local chapters to the the benefit of the entire community — not just members of Kuapa.

These life-changing projects are funded out of the farmers Trust where Fair trade premiums and other funds are lodged. Kuapa Kokoo has a non-discriminatory approach to setting up projects. Eligible societies can apply to the farmers’ trust which is represented by elected farmers who vet and approve projects based on publicised criteria.

Project areas funded include health and safety (including the provision of pump wells for clean drinking water and pit toilets), education (several schools have been built in the area) and economic and social empowerment one objective of the Union is to improve the living standards of its members.

Kuapa Kokoo has also invested in ways to provide an alternative means of livelihood during the off-season with women are at the centre of these programmes.

Photo: Cam Cope/OxfamAUS

Photo: Cam Cope/OxfamAUS

Afia (14), and Kwame Tawiah (24) collect water together in Asansua village (in the Central Region of Ghana) for their families, who work as caretaker farmers with Fairtrade cocoa farmers in the Kuapa Kokoo cooperative. Fairtrade premium payments to the cooperative were used to construct the borehole so that people in Asansua can collect clean water close to home.

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Abass Ibrahim (19), studying in his last year of school at Amankwatia village’s Junior High School in the Central Region of Ghana. Fairtrade premium payments to the cocoa farmer’s cooperative Kuapa Kokoo,  were used to construct teacher’s accommodation at the school so that farmer’s children can receive an education close to home. Abass hopes to go to university and become a medical practitioner.

Photo: Cam Cope/OxfamAUS

Photo: Cam Cope/OxfamAUS

Mary Gyamfua (53) at home in Amankwatia village (in the Central Region of Ghana) making body soap from the potash of burnt cocoa husks mixed with palm oil. Kuapa Kokoo runs seminars and workshops in leadership skills for women, as well as soap-making and tie-dying instruction to help women diversify their incomes when cocoa is not in season.