In 2014, the former Head of Sales (now EVP General Manager) at Divine Chocolate USA, Troy Pearley, visited Ghana to attend Kuapa Kokoo’s Annual General Meeting (AGM). While there, he met with farmers and witnessed the achievements of Kuapa Kokoo firsthand. Read on below to learn more about his experience, as written by Troy.
The sight of seeing one man and one woman from each of the 1300+ Kuapa village societies across Ghana as representatives of the full 85,000+ member co-operative 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, each delegate’s job (a job everyone takes very seriously) is to listen to the manifestos of the candidates for the National Executive Council 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 Council has grown to 13 members, and all positions (except for two) were up for election.
After the long and rigorous election process was completed, the new Executive Council was sworn in, and the farmers anticipated the program for the following day: the 20th Kuapa Kokoo Annual General Meeting.
The most memorable part of my trip was my visit to a farm located in Sakama. 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 we took 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 its commitment to its 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 maths 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, granting Kuapa Kokoo information to make improvements now and in the future.
The people of Ghana are proud hard-working people. It's seen in the 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 organisation of the event was first class. Kuapa Kokoo is here to stay and will only get better at what they are doing. If I was a cocoa farmer in Ghana, I would want to be part of Kuapa Kokoo.