Fair Trade Farmers From Kuapa Kokoo

It was some time ago that I went to visit the Divine office near Tower Bridge to find out more about Fair Trade in general and what I dubbed Extra Fair Trade – how Divine do business.

In a nutshell, whereas most Fair Trade chocolate producers pay the FT premium for the cocoa, but then process, market and sell it themselves, Divine buys their cocoa from a large cocoa farming cooperative in Ghana called Kuapa Kokoo. They pay the FT premium for the cocoa, benefiting the farmers in that way. But, more importantly, Kuapa Kokoo is also the majority shareholder of Divine, and so the farmers claim a share of the profits from the sale of the finished chocolate products too.

Read more about this in my original post.

As part of Fair Trade Fortnight, back in March, Divine organised for two farmers to visit the UK as ambassadors for their 45,000 member farmers’ co-operative, Kuapa Kokoo.

I was invited to meet the two farmers during their time in London and had the opportunity to interview them.

Like many other women farmers who belong to the co-operative, Fatima Ali and Harriet Boatemaa have been able to become financially independent and support their extended families. They have also put themselves forward for elected positions within the co-operative organisation, allowing them to represent their communities and help other farmers do better too.

At just 29, Fatima is the youngest person ever to be voted onto Kuapa Kokoo’s National Executive. She is the recorder of the Alikrom Kuapa Kokoo Society and President of Akontombra District in the Western Region. Fatima joined Kuapa Kokoo 9 years ago and is very proud of her 5 acre farm. She takes care of her son alone, has helped her father put up a building for their family and has also supported her brother through secondary school.

Harriet Boatemaa is 27 years old and has been a member of the co-operative for 4 years. She was introduced to the co-operative by her father, who used to be the recorder for the Jonakrom Kuapa Kokoo Society and was able to pay for Harriet’s education because of the financial security he gained. Now Harriet is the local recorder and she takes care of her younger siblings with proceeds from her 7 acre farm, given to her by her father. She hopes to one day be elected as the co-operative President so that she too can be a role model to inspire other youngsters to stay and work in their villages and farms rather than migrate to the city in search of non-existent jobs.

Apologies for the poor image and sound quality of the videos – this doesn’t do justice to the achievements of these two amazing ladies.

Divine Cookies of Dreams (Cooking With Divine: Part II)

As I mentioned in a recent post, now I’ve learned more about Divine Fairtrade Chocolate and Kuapa Kokoo, I am keen to incorporate it into my cooking. And something about this time of year gives me the urge to bake sweet-smelling, great-tasting goodies. Maybe it’s the wintery cold weather? Maybe it’s the run up to Christmas? Whatever it is, when the results are as tasty as this, I’m not complaining!

Previously I tried a recipe from Divine’s cookbook: Heavenly Chocolate Recipes with a Heart.

This time I thought I’d use my favourite chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe, which I have blogged about previously under the heading The Cookies Of Dreams.

I used exactly the same recipe as before but halved the mixture before stirring in the chocolate. Into one half I mixed 100 grams of Divine coffee milk chocolate. Into the other half I mixed 100 grams of Divine dark chocolate with raspberries.

As there are only two of us, I baked just 3 cookies of each type, rolling the rest of the dough into two cling-filmed sausages and popping them into the freezer for another time.

Pete reckons the coffee chocolate cookies are better. I prefer the dark chocolate and raspberries variety. Both are absolutely delicious and I really like how using different flavours of chocolate makes it so easy to ring the changes in an already much loved recipe.

If you try this recipe with other types of chocolate, do let me know how you get on! I’m sure, once you bite through the crunchy exterior into the soft, melting interior, you’ll be hooked!

P.S. I’m not being sponsored by Divine. They were simply kind enough to respond positively when I wrote asking if they’d be willing to talk to me about Fairtrade, Divine and Kuapa Kokoo. After our meeting, they kindly gave me some extra chocolate bars to add to my existing stash as well as a copy of their recipe book. (I didn’t realise they had one, but had mentioned my chocolate mousse failure which occured the a few days before I went in to see them and they took pity on me!)

Cooking With Divine Chocolate: Part I

Having found out all about Divine Fairtrade Chocolate (and Kuapa Kokoo) I was keen to use some of the chocolate in cooking.

The Bad (But Not Ugly)

My first attempt did not go well. I wanted to make a light coffee chocolate mousse using Divine coffee milk chocolate, the flavour I’ve consumed so many kilos of over the years. A friend passed on a link to a Raymond Blanc video in which he makes an egg white mousse instead of the usual egg yolk, butter and cream version. Of course, in his recipe he uses a completely different kind of chocolate. But I thought I could surely adapt the idea so I went ahead. The first problem I had was melting the chocolate. I use the microwave to melt chocolate these days and usually it does a fantastic job. For some reason, in this case, the chocolate seized up and the only way I could persuade it to melt was to add some boiling water and beat it into submission. Worried the egg white wasn’t stiff enough, I am sure I over did it, beating it in the Magimix. With a sinking feeling, I went ahead and mixed together the melted chocolate, a tiny bit of sugar and the beaten egg white and poured it into some pretty dishes and popped it into the fridge. Sadly, it never did become any more solid than the thick liquid I poured from the mixing bowl and whilst it tasted very nice, it was a big fat failure.

The Good

So, for my second attempt, I was determined to use a recipe. And not just any old chocolate recipe but one from Divine’s own recipe book, Heavenly Chocolate Recipes With A Heart.

Divine Chocolate’s Stem Ginger & Chocolate Chunk Cake Recipe

This is a lovely, rich ginger chocolate cake. The flavours of the black treacle and honey both come through clearly and I like the little burtst of ginger flavour as you bite down on a piece of stem ginger. Having the chocolate in chunks is also a nice change from using cocoa powder in the cake mix. This one’s definitely a keeper.

50 grams light muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons black treacle
75 grams honey
85 grams unsalted butter
100 ml milk
75 grams chopped glacé ginger (also known as stem ginger)
1 large free range egg, beaten
225 grams plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1oo grams Divine milk chocolate

1 pound loaf tin
butter and flour to line tin


  • Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F/ Gas 4.
  • Place the sugar, black treacle, honey, butter, milk and chopped ginger into a large pan and heat gently until melted together.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for a couple of minutes before stirring in the egg.
  • Sift the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda into the pan and mix in well.
  • Break up the chocolate into small pieces and stir in.
  • Transfer the mixture to the loaf tin and spread evenly.
  • Bake for 45-50 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  • Leave to cool in completely in the tin before turning out.
  • Store in airtight container. Will last up to a week.

Amazon has a great offer on the Divine cookbook at the moment. It’s available at £12.47 instead of the RRP of £19.99.

Extra Fair Trade!

Fair Trade. We’ve all come across it but how many of us have much of an understanding, beyond a short soundbite, of what it actually means in practice?

Fair Trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries and promote sustainability. The movement advocates the payment of a higher price to producers as well as social and environmental standards. It focuses in particular on exports from developing countries to developed countries, most notably handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, sugar, tea, bananas, honey, cotton, wine, fresh fruit, chocolate and flowers.” ~Wikipedia

In the context of the Fair Trade Movement, a fair price is a price that, when paid to the individual producers of a product such as coffee or handicrafts, gives them access to a viable standard of living, including nutrition, health care, education, and cultural autonomy.” ~Deardorff’s Glossary of International Economics, University of Michigan website

And are all Fairtrade products equal or are some more fair trade than others?

Having missed Chocolate Week (only I could book a holiday that took me out of the country for the entire event) I asked the people at Divine Chocolate if they would be willing to help me understand more about Fairtrade in general and how it works in their business specifically. They kindly invited me to Divine HQ near Tower Bridge and we got talking chocolate. If you’re interested in what I learned, read on.

Kuapa Kokoo

The story starts in 1993. The Ghanian cocoa market, which had previously been in the hands of the government, was opened up by license to private organisations for the first time. With help from Twin Trading (a registered charity and trading company that also helped set up Café Direct), SNV (a Dutch NGO) and a forward-thinking representative on the Ghana Cocoa Board, a group of cocoa farmers created a co-operative to collect and sell their cocoa for the benefit of the member farmers. They called the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo, meaning “Good Cocoa Farmers Company” in the local language, Twi.

The idea of farmers working for themselves, looking after themselves, in a co-operative organisation was quite an unusual idea. But it wasn’t long before the farmers began to reap the benefits of working together and they quickly built up a strong reputation for quality, efficiency and reliability.

Kuapa Kokoo today consists of the Farmers Union (which runs local, regional and national elections for representatives to run the co-operative on a democratic basis), the Farmers Trust (which distributes money for community projects), the Credit Union (which provides financial services for the farmers) and the trading arm itself. Kuapa Kokoo is a co-operative of 45,000 farmers in 1,300 villages right across Ghana’s cocoa growing areas. Between them they produce approximately 8% of Ghana’s total and 1% of the world’s cocoa crops.


A central tenet of Fairtrade is that buyers pay a fixed price, calculated to ensure a decent living for the farmers and producers. In the case of cocoa, world market prices have fallen as low as $1000 per tonne in recent years, but the Fairtrade price is set at $1600 per tonne. At the moment, world market prices happen to be high but the advantage of Fairtrade is the consistency of income in a constantly fluctuating market. On top of that is the $150 premium paid on each tonne purchased, which is invested in farmer support and community development programmes ranging from building primary school classrooms, constructing wells, and investing in corn mills to gender awareness and women’s empowerment workshops to seminars on issues such as nutrition, child care, health and finance.

But why do prices for cocoa vary so much? One reason is that quality varies a great deal too. It’s easy to take shortcuts such as rushing fermentation by using fire to speed up the drying time (which can impart an unpleasant smokey taste to the cocoa). Kuapa Kokoo take pride in doing a proper job to produce higher quality results. And as each sack is coded to the village in which it was made, if it’s not up to scratch, it’s sent straight back!

Additionally, in exchange for those Fairtrade prices, Kuapa Kokoo must ensure that their production methods meet internationally audited conditions regarding, for example, minimum health and safety conditions. They are also obliged to ensure that each producer receives a guaranteed price for their goods and the security of long-term trading contracts.

While intensive, un-shaded cocoa farms boast higher yields initially, these deteriorate rapidly leading frequently to the abandonment of farms and continued deforestation as new farms encroach onto forest reserves. As Kuapa Kokoo wants to ensure longterm income for it’s members, it’s cocoa is grown in the shade. Shaded systems also mean retaining a greater biodiversity, though of course, only a fraction of what is found in virgin rainforest. It’s about finding a realistic balance between environmental conservation and the needs of local communities to make a living.

Until recently, only 10% of Kuapa Kokoo’s output was sold on a Fairtrade basis as the Fairtrade market, whilst growing, remains small. Given that 100% of their cocoa meets the required standards, the aim is to sell much more of it to Fairtrade buyers. You may already know about Cadbury’s recent switch to Fairtrade cocoa for their Dairy Milk chocolate – the good news is that they are buying their Fairtrade cocoa from Kuapa Kokoo, which more than doubles the amount Kuapa Kokoo are selling at Fairtrade prices.

Divine Chocolate

At a 1997 Kuapa Kokoo AGM it was agreed that the best way to to increase the income of the co-operative’s cocoa producers would be to establish their own branded chocolate for sale in the UK chocolate markets. Much of the profit in chocolate is not in the farming, but in production, so it made a lot of sense to expand into that side of the chain.

In 1998, with backing from Twin Trading and The Body Shop (not to mention support from Christian Aid and Comic Relief), Kuapa Kokoo established The Day Chocolate Company. They soon created and launched Divine Fairtrade chocolate, a brand now available in supermarkets throughout the UK. The company itself was renamed to Divine Chocolate Ltd in 2007.

Initially, Kuapa Kokoo owned 33% of the chocolate company (with the rest being owned by Twin Trading, The Body Shop and other investors). That went up to 45% in 2007 when The Body Shop gave (not sold) their 12% to Kuapa Kokoo just before they sold their business to L’Oreal.

So the income stream for Kuapa Kokoo is three-fold: They receive the Fairtrade price for their cocoa, along with the premium. They take 45% of the profit dividends from Divine Chocolate Ltd. And Divine also give 2% of their turnover to a Producers Support & Development fund which, like the Fairtrade premium, is used to improve farmers’ skills and productivity, increase efficiency within the co-operative, help finance the running of the co-operative (and the democratic process).

And of course, there is also the advantage that comes from a stronger understanding of the chocolate industry! The more farmers understand about the chocolate-making process and how the quality and processing of cocoa impacts the final product, the better equipped they are to produce even better cocoa. On top of that, Kuapa Kokoo is better able to obtain more favourable financing deals – paying 5% rather than 25% interest on loans, for example!

So this is how Divine Chocolate stands out from other Fairtrade options for me. Of course, I applaud Cadbury’s decision to make it’s Dairy Milk chocolate Fairtrade. Cocoa farmers will receive the Fairtrade price and premium for their beans. But all the profits from producing and selling the chocolate are Cadbury’s alone. Divine Chocolate is what I’m calling Extra Fair Trade as it feeds more money back to the cocoa farmers.

The Chocolate

Kuaka Kokoo’s motto is “Pa Pa Paa” which means “the best of the best of the best”. That applies to Divine Chocolate too, who aim to produce delicious, high quality chocolate using natural ingredients. In the short time since they launched the brand, they have grown their range to include a wide selection of flavours and some lovely gift products too.

I think I first came across Divine at Destinations travel show a few years ago. For the last few years I’ve bought boxes of 10 x 100 gram bars of the coffee flavour each time I’m at the show. More recently, I’ve been trying other flavours including dark chocolate with raspberries, white chocolate with strawberries, butterscotch milk chocolate, dark fruit and nut, hazelnut milk chocolate, dark mint chocolate and orange milk chocolate.

I’m also a huge fan of their dark chocolate mango slices and apricots; the apricots are Fairtrade from Pakistan and the sun-dried mangoes are Fairtrade from Burkina Faso. Soft, chewy fruit coated in rich, dark chocolate – what’s not to like?

I’ve not yet tried their cocoa powder, but it’s on my list. If you’re interested in exploring their products yourself, they have a Divine shop website, here.

Cooking With Divine Chocolate

I’ve also been experimenting with using Divine chocolate in cooking. Thus far I’ve had one failure and one success. Read more about both in an upcoming blog post.