Farmers In Control
Oikocredit—Monday, June 11, 2012
What does it take to get a Fair Trade product on to the supermarket shelf? Every link in the value chain plays an important role – including the farmer, buyer, manufacturer and consumer.
In October last year, Oikocredit completed its support to a Fair Trade cocoa value chain, when it disbursed a local currency loan to Kuapa Kokoo Limited in Ghana. This cocoa buying company is 100% owned by Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union, a cooperative of 62,000 cocoa farmers.
Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union is also owns 45% of Divine Chocolate UK, and owns one third of the shares in Divine Chocolate US. These two Fair Trade chocolate companies have been Oikocredit partners since 2006 and 2008 respectively, and buy Kuapa’s cocoa and manufacture the chocolate products under the Divine Chocolate label.
In Canada, organizations and individuals have invested $7.2 million in Oikocredit to support these fair trade initiatives.
Kuapa Kokoo will use the new Oikocredit loan of CAD$3.3 million to build its working capital to increase the purchase of cocoa beans from its member farmers.
|Vida Addai, cocoa farmer and member-owner of Kuapa Kokoo (and, by extension, Divine Chocolate) at the water bore hole Kuapa built using Fairtrade premiums.|
This producer-ownership across the value chain is described as a “strengthening component of small farmer organizations becoming more stable and secure in volatile markets” in research commissioned by the Fairtrade Foundation.
Kuapa Kokoo supports its communities with more than market access, offering agricultural and health education. The cooperative provides training to assist farmers in producing items in the off-season, including making soap. The cooperative also takes a strong stand on the issues of children’s education and child labour in the cocoa sector. In 2011, Kuapa Kokoo teamed up with the International Labour Organization (ILO) to identify, prevent and create awareness on child labour. The cooperative has already highlighted the need for education by building schools where children can prepare for their future while parents work their farms.
“If you go to the district now, we have a big school building for the children,” said Kuapa Kokoo member and cocoa farmer Felicia Mensah. “Previously, they attended school under a tree, which was very, very bad. So the cooperative has done a lot for the farmers.”