In 2014, Divine’s Communications Director Charlotte Borger visited Ghana to attend Kuapa Kokoo’s 20th Annual General Meeting (AGM). Read on below to learn more about her experience, as written by Charlotte.
With the business of the Kuapa national elections successfully and properly concluded, the 2,800 representatives of the Kuapa Kokoo membership gathered for the third day in the Royal Parade Ground of Kwame Nkrumah University to celebrate their 20th AGM. Kuapa Kokoo is starting to attract more interest in Ghana; 25 different national and regional media outlets were present to cover the AGM and to witness this unique gathering of cocoa farmers.
Once all of the invited Chiefs have assembled, with their panoplies and entourages, and once prayers have been said, the main business of the day can begin.
Each division of the Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Union reports to the membership:
- the Farmers Trust reporting on Fairtrade premium invested over the year,
- the buying company Kuapa Kokoo Ltd giving a full update on sales and trading conditions,
- the Credit Union on its performance,
- and Divine Chocolate Ltd on its progress and what it delivers to the farmers
Divine's Managing Director Sophi Tranchell praised Kuapa Kokoo: “You’re inspiring the world by showing that a democratic cocoa farmers’ co-operative can be a serious player in the cocoa industry, delivering more than 5% of Ghana’s cocoa and approximately 1% of the world’s cocoa while improving the livelihoods of your members. That is a lot to be proud of!"
While the speeches continue in the main Parade area, all around it are stands and stalls selling snacks to the delegates. Others are proudly piled high with a variety of goods made by women members of the co-op. Kuapa arranges training in a variety of skills to enable women to bring additional income into their families and set up small trading businesses of their own.
The farmers are pleased to hear Mr Emmanuel Arthur, Managing Director of Kuapa Kokoo Ltd, publicly address the current concerns with the Ghana cocoa farmgate prices. The farmgate price is not increasing in line with the world price, which is further diminished by the dramatic devaluation of the Ghanaian cedi. He asked the Government to urgently address this and the impact it is having on farmers’ livelihoods.
Madam Fatima Ali gives her first speech as elected President of the Union and vows to do her very best for the members. She declares her commitment to the empowerment of women within the organisation.
Then, an unexpected announcement: Cord Budde, the Managing Director of the factory that has made Divine since it was launched in 1998, is to be made a "development chief." He and his young daughter find themselves dressed in full Kente robes and surrounded by Ashanti gold as they shake hands with all the other Chiefs present at the event.
After all the voting, reporting and celebrating is over and the farmers have been presented with the free machetes each will receive (paid for with the Divine profit dividend), the grand finale is when the big cases of Divine Chocolate are cracked open, and everyone at the AGM receives a bar of Milk Chocolate with Toffee and Sea Salt.
Then, the chairs and marquees suddenly empty, and the farmers all disappear to catch lifts and buses to get them back to their farms (in many cases, a 6+ hour drive away).
Back in Kuapa HQ, over the following days it is exciting to see the news stories coming out about the AGM in the top national papers and on national TV. It is good to see that through Kuapa, the farmer’s voice is being heard in Ghana and around the world.