It takes a lot of experience to recognise when a cocoa pod is ready to be picked. Farmers reach them with long, curved tools. Then break them open to reveal the 20-50 cream-coloured cocoa beans inside. They lay the beans on huge mats to dry in the sun, then select the very best ones to be made into cocoa butter.
We were one of Kuapa Kokoo’s first customers in 1996. Today, it represents over 50,000 small-scale farmers, around a third of whom are women. The co-operative guarantees farmers a minimum price for their cocoa beans. And for every tonne we buy, we also pay a premium which goes towards community projects like schools and wells.
Ghana is famous for the quality of its cocoa beans. But the country’s two million cocoa farmers are among its poorest people. Literacy rates are low, and this makes it hard for farmers to know if they’re getting a fair deal. Through its fair and transparent buying process, Kuapa Kokoo is changing this.
Kuapa Kokoo allows women to play a central part in the business. Mary Antwi, a cocoa farmer, says: "Before I joined Kuapa Kokoo I didn’t have a voice. Now I am treasurer of my society and I can speak."
A FAIR DEAL
What’s different about Kuapa Kokoo? Mohamed, a farmer from the Bayerebon village, explains: "Kuapa Kokoo is democratic and transparent,” he says. “It pays us in cash for the beans when we bring them."
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
The botanical name of the cocoa tree is Theobroma, from the Greek meaning 'food of the gods'.
SOAK IT UP
Solid cocoa butter melts at body temperature, so it glides over your skin and absorbs quickly.