AnnCatherine Carlsson has been the managing director of The House of Fair Trade in Sweden since 2001. The House of Fair Trade has been a strong partner and distributor for Divine Chocolate for many years. In 2018, Divine Chocolate acquired The House of Fair Trade to more effectively increase its presence in Sweden and grow sales of fair trade products.
In 2014, AnnCatherine spent one week in Ghana and shared her experience in the post written below.
I spent one week in Ghana in June this year together with my colleague Peter Akortsu. Peter comes from Ghana and worked at Kuapa Kokoo for many years. Now, he is living in Sweden and working for The House of Fair Trade. This gave me a lot of opportunities to meet people within the co-operative. (Both farmers and people working at the office.) I also met Mr. Nana Bio, the founder of Kuapa, and Fatima Ali, Kuapa’s President!
Together with Mabel Tagoe we arranged and financed a workshop with 20 women from Offinso District and Agona District. They gave us a whole day’s presentation on how to make black soap and batiks. Our goal is to market this soap in Sweden in the near future! I have been using this soap the whole time since then.
We spent two days in New Koforidua meeting Walter, a Fair Trade city coordinator. He took us out to a cocoa farm. Mr. Frederick Gamor explained that it is really hard work harvesting pods from the tree. Frederick let me try, and I can confirm that! He told me that farmers spend seven hours per day, six day per week on their farms.
Within the cocoa pod, you can see the white sweet envelope around the cocoa beans. Frederick let me taste, and it was delicious. They emptied out the pods on palm leaves that have been spread out on the ground. Here they stay for about a week, wrapped in another layer of palm leaves for protection & to keep in the heat. During that time the white flesh is fermented and then the cocoa beans are laid out on a large table in the sun to dry. It is only now that the beans are starting to taste like the chocolate we know, at least a little of the bitter taste of chocolate.
Peter, who speaks the local language, was having a chat with Mrs. Mansah Nyame. She explained about all the good things the Fairtrade premium has meant for the village.
The village Kuapa vice president, Abena Ferida, tasted a Divine Chocolate bar, and although it had melted on its way from Sweden, she thought it was a great experience.