By Esther Ephraim, cocoa farmer from Ghana
For most, chocolate is an everyday part of life, whether it’s a special treat or a pick me up. It’s the same for me too, but for very different reasons.
I’m a cocoa farmer and I run my family’s cocoa farm in the western region of Ghana. We produce around 40-50 sacks (roughly 3 tonnes) of cocoa a year from our 38 acre farm. I work on the farm every day and it is physically hard work, but occasionally we get help from other people in the community. This helpful gesture is called “nnoboa” in my local dialect which means “collective spirit.”
As a cocoa farmer, I consider myself very fortunate to be a member of the Fairtrade Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative which is made up of 85,000 farmers. “Kuapa Kokoo” means “good cocoa farming” in my native Twi language and our motto is “PaPa Paa” which means “The best of the best of the best”. Being part of the Cooperative means we receive training on the best agricultural and environment practices, so we are able to produce higher quality beans. My family and I receive a better price for our cocoa so we have a better standard of living than other farmers.
There are cocoa farms in West African countries where unsustainable price pressures applied by large trading companies have led to injustices such as child and slave labour. With limited access to education, these farms lack the tools and means to engage with traders on more lucrative deals from around the world, leaving them working for less and in poorer conditions. Women also have limited opportunities to contribute to the community.
My Kuapa Kokoo Cooperative is different. It gives a real voice to women, allowing us to be part of the decision making process, to vote and to hold office in the organisation. At Kuapa they believe that “an empowered woman is an empowered family”. We also receive skills and leadership training. The current president of Kuapa Kokoo is a woman and my dream is to become a national executive member of the organisation in the future.