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.
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.