Last month, Divine’s Head of Sales, Troy Pearley, went to Ghana to attend Kuapa Kokoo’s, the farmer’s union that co-owns Divine Chocolate’s, Annual General Meeting, meet with farmers, and witness the achievements of Kuapa Kokoo first hand. Pictured above are Troy Pearley and Kuapa Kokoo President Fatima Ali.
For the farmers, one man and one woman from all the 1300+ Kuapa village societies across Ghana, just the sight of everyone assembled, representing the full 85,000 membership, is enough to make everyone feel proud and freshly committed to this organization, the biggest cocoa farmers co-operative in the world. Assembled in the Royal Parade Ground at Kwame Nkrumah University (KNUST) there is a palpable sense of ceremony and occasion.
For two days their job, a job everyone takes very seriously, is to listen to the manifestos of the candidates for the National Executive positions, to ask questions and consider their suitability - and then vote accordingly. The Electoral Commission of Ghana supervises and ensures proper procedures, and a police guard (though unlikely to be necessary) is there to oversee proceedings.
The National Executive has grown to 13 and all positions, except for two, were up for election.
After the long and rigorous election process was completed, the new Executive was sworn in, and the farmers anticipated the program for the following day - the 20th Kuapa Kokoo Annual General Meeting.
Divine Chocolate’s US Head of Sales attended the meeting and traveled to farms to witness the achievements of Kuapa Kokoo first hand. We asked him about the most memorable part of his trip.
“My visit to the farm located in Sakama was the most memorable part of my trip. The people were nice and proud to be part of Kuapa Kokoo. We had the opportunity to speak with Charles, the owner of one of the farms and take photos with folks in the village. The children were happy to have a guest and followed us around. We watched a literacy class being taught and asked questions. Watching the literacy class was a great way to see Kuapa’s farmer programs at work.
The various programs Kuapa Kokoo sponsors and supports demonstrates their business model. All of the programs will positively impact the lives of the Kuapa Kokoo community. The adult literacy program is laying the groundwork for men and especially women to run and take future positions of leadership within the co-op. For those who do not desire leadership positions within Kuapa Kokoo, the program components of reading, writing, and math will help the participants to make better business and life decisions.
The Child Rights Project is managed by Ghanaians and encourages children to communicate with their parents and people of authority. Kuapa Kokoo is also conducting studies with farmers to improve farming techniques which are providing Kuapa Kokoo with information to make improvements now and in the future.
The people of Ghana are proud hard working people. It's seen in Kumasi market and it was demonstrated during Kuapa's elections. It took a lot of hard work to prepare for the 2800 folks attending the elections. The presentation and organization of the event was first class. Kuapa Kokoo is here to stay and only will get better at what they are doing. If I was a cocoa farmer in Ghana I would want to be part of Kuapa Kokoo. PA..PA.. PAA...”
--Troy Parris Pearley, Head of Sales – Divine Chocolate USA