Divine Chocolate’s delicious chocolates produced in the UK became a topical issue for journalists representing the local media and other guests who attended a press soiree and chocolate feast day held by Kuapa Kokoo.
The mouth-watering, tasty chocolates captured the centre stage when during the programme, the floor was opened for questions and contributions from the journalists and invited guests. Questions like … ‘’when is Kuapa (Divine) planning to manufacture and sells these chocolates in Ghana?’’, how many times (in a year) do Kuapa farmers enjoy these tasty chocolates? ‘’ how much dividends do Kuapa farmers derived from Divine?’’ and ‘’how the idea of a farmer company owning a chocolate cropped up?’’ featured prominently.
As part of Kuapa Kokoo Company’s 20th anniversary celebrations, Kuapa Kokoo organised a chocolate feast and press soiree on the 14th of February 2014. The president of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, members of the National Executives Committee, Kuapa Kokoo key partners, media houses and management of Kuapa Kokoo met at Hotel Georgia in Kumasi to dine and wine in celebrating Ghana’s chocolate day. The theme for the 20th anniversary is “20 years of empowering smallholder cocoa farmers: Kuapa’s unique achievements.
The occasion was graced by prominent people such as Nana Fe Baamoah chief of Asokwa traditional area; Hannah Davis a representative from Twin based in UK, immediate past president of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, Mr. P. C. K. Buah.
Madam Fatima Ali, president of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union in welcoming the dignitaries, explained the rationale for holding a ‘’Press Soiree and Chocolate Feast’’ day. She stated that, the purpose of the gathering was to open-up Kuapa to the media in Ghana and also deepen Kuapa relationship with its partners. According to KKFU president, the event was planned to afford invited personalities to understand in detail how cocoa farmers in Ghana have been able to establish their own organization and a Chocolate company.
‘’Kuapa Kokoo pride themselves in many things such as being the largest Fairtrade pioneering organisation in Ghana, democratic, gender sensitive, owning a chocolate company – Divine - abroad, to getting extra money, a machete every year, health care through mobile clinic, good drinking water, toilets facilities, providing education for children; and leading the war against Worst Form of Child Labour in Ghana’’. These gains she stressed should be projected in a manner that would attract goodwill from its partners and other sponsors for the good of the farmers.
Mr Emmanuel Arthur, The Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo and acting Executive Director of KKFU in a power-point presentation took the guests through Kuapa’s history, structures and achievements made over the 20 years.
He enumerated Kuapa’s vision which is to become a leading, caring, efficient and the most globally recognized cooperative in cocoa production and marketing. He furthermore, elaborated on the structures Kuapa has put in place to achieve this vision.
In answering questions posed by the media, Mr Arthur emphasized that Divine Chocolate is considered a major unit of Kuapa Kokoo. Kuapa farmers gain exposure through campaigns and interactions with consumers abroad – each year, two farmer’s travel to UK (and America) thus, building their knowledge about the chocolate industry and increasing confidence.
Kuapa Kokoo is represented up the value chain in the cocoa industry through ownership of Divine Chocolate. Divine chocolate pays for a radio broadcast programme to educate farmers and for members to feedback to the Union. In Strengthening Kuapa Kokoo governance structure, Divine contributes 1% of its turnover to KK’s producer support and development (PS&D) fund towards developing KK’s communities and members. All Divine Chocolate bars are made with 100% Fairtrade quality cocoa sourced from Kuapa Kokoo. Thus, the farmers earn additional income through the premium paid by Divine Chocolate Ltd.
Kuapa Kokoo is a founding member of Fairtrade labeling organisation now Fairtrade International for over 18years. The premiums Kuapa Kokoo receive is what is been invested in projects and activities that enhance the livelihood of its members and their communities.
Ms Hannah Davies who represented both Twin and Divine Chocolate at the event traced how Twin assisted in forming Kuapa Kokoo and Divine. She said ‘’Twin’s work aims to unlock maximum value in trading chains to deliver transformational change for smallholder farmers- and so in 1997, Divine was established with the financial and technical support of Twin, The Body Shop, Comic Relief and Christian Aid’’.
She continued that Twin sees Kuapa Kokoo and Divine Chocolate as an example of how the international marketplace can operate differently saying ‘’the biggest achievement is that they have done this by placing farmers at the centre of their business model, inviting them to have a say in how their business is run and how their income is spent, rather than treating them simply as producer of a raw commodity’’.
The media after the programme overwhelmingly pledged to project the good deeds of Kuapa Kokoo as their contributions in raising living standards of Ghanaian farmers.