Ethical shopping is never more important than at this time of the year because it reminds us as consumers that we are supporting a partnership, rather than just buying a product. The cocoa producers’ cooperative, Kuapa Kokoo, have been explaining recently the empowering impact of being members of the Fairtrade community.
Kuapa Kokoo is a role model cooperative, building trust among the famers over the years; for example, members feel confident about the honesty of the person weighing the cocoa and paying them. Their membership includes a third of women and since 2010 their current president, Christiana Ohene-Agyare, is the first woman to be elected to the post. The cooperative’s democratic structure has given everyone a voice to collectively decide how the premium is spent.
The Fairtrade premium in cocoa trading is $150/tonne on top of the Fairtrade minimum fair price of $1,600(approximately £1,000)/tonne. The premium goes towards reinvestment in the community. Income raised by Kuapa Kokoo over the past 17 years has funded schools, boreholes and toilet blocks. It has also gone towards agricultural training schemes for farmers and the establishment of credit unions where farmers can get loans. The improvements made to the lives of the farmers and their families motivate them to remain within a Fairtrade community.
In 1997, the cooperative voted to start a chocolate brand of their own, Divine Chocolate, becoming a real contender in the UK chocolate market. Visits by producers during Fairtrade Fortnight over the years have helped solidify the relationship between Kuapa Kokoo members and consumers in the UK.
With every bite of Fairtrade chocolate this Christmas, the Scottish Fair Trade Forum remembers that the humble cocoa bean symbolises much more than its end product. It keeps us steadfast in our commitment towards challenging global poverty and recognising the need for fairness in international trading to preserve the dignity and rights of producers overseas.