Western Africa

First certified producer in Western Africa

Name of organisation: Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union

Fairtrade since: 1993

Product: Cocoa

One of the best known names within Fairtrade, Kuapa Kokoo means ‘best farmer cocoa’. It has 100,000 members and continues to grow in strength and stature.

Its beginnings were on a different scale. In 1993 cocoa buying was run by the Ghanaian government, but the World Bank and IMF had insisted the country liberalise its structure. This meant private companies were about to make as much money from the cocoa industry as they could and they would all be heading to the bigger farmers to supply their cocoa.

Kuapa’s starting point was to ensure that small-scale farmers – those who produced less than five bags of cocoa a year – didn’t get left behind.

A farmer representative on the Cocoa Marketing Company of Ghana board (COCOBOD), Nana Aberese, gained the support of NGOs including ActionAid, TWIN and SNV, mobilised four other farmers and registered Kuapa Kokoo Limited in 1993.The company would belong to the farmers who would decide how the profits would be spent. They organized more farmers to supply cocoa beans to the new company.

Kuapa Kokoo started with 22 societies with about 2,200 members in the Ashanti and Brong Ahafo regions of Ghana and has since grown to cover all five cocoa growing regions in the country.

In 1995, Kuapa decided to apply for Fairtrade certification and created the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union (KKFU) which became the first Fairtrade small-scale farmers’ organization in west Africa.

KKFU’s output in terms of volumes of cocoa beans supplied by its members reached 45,000 metric tonnes in the 2014-2015 cocoa seasons, almost seven percent of Ghana’s total output for the season, with a healthy proportion sold on Fairtrade terms.

Members of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers’ Union held its 21st Annual Delegates Conference in August 2015 and announced impressive steps forward in health care, gender and other areas. Quality health care is seen as a priority. A referral clinic at the head office in Kumasi is providing quality health care to members and plans are well advanced to extend the service. A qualified nurse will be available to receive health complaints which will be transmitted electronically to a specialist for diagnosis and recommendations.

Kuapa’s achievements in the area of female empowerment are demonstrated by the composition of the current National Executive Council which has six female members including the second successive female president. There are 43 active women’s groups in 13 districts of the KKFU and these have been trained in income generating activities, increasing their family incomes and well-being. In the past, some women have shown a reluctance to put themselves forward for positions of responsibility. Anecdotal evidence indicates this might be because some are unable to read and write, so a pilot literacy programme has been established, directed at these women.

KKFU is also the majority shareholder of its own chocolate company – Divine Chocolate, a UK-based brand – and has received £19,000 this year as a dividend on its investment in the company.