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An empowered woman is an empowered family.

Esther Ephraim.

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.

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As well as training opportunities, being part of Kuapa Kokoo has provided great benefits to my community. Through the Fairtrade Premium (which we receive in addition to the Fairtrade minimum price for our cocoa), our village has been provided with a hand dug well which means that we now have access to clean drinking water, even during the dry season. This has helped prevent the spread of waterborne diseases in the community. The Premium has also funded a mobile healthcare clinic enabling my community to have easier access to treatment, as the clinic visits our members’ villages regularly and provides door-to-door service.

Esther drying out the cacao beans.

I love growing cocoa and get satisfaction from producing a high quality product. My parents are cocoa farmers and I am proud to carry on the tradition. My ambition for the future is to expand my farm and sustainably produce high quality cocoa. I want to be able to build a house for myself and my family, to be a respected lady or mother and through the Co-operative be able to help schools provide a high level of education to give students the opportunity to become nurses, doctors, pastors or Kuapa Kokoo staff in future.

So next time you tuck into some chocolate (Fairtrade, of course), think of me, my family and community on the other side of the world, working hard on our land to produce the cocoa that goes into your special treat.

Esther

Esther is visiting Australia for the first time during Fair Trade Fortnight, 2-18 May to help raise awareness of everyday products that are sourced ethically and support farmers in developing countries with a fair price and improved working and living conditions.

For more information go to: fairtrade.com.au

Please share this post to help raise awareness of Fair Trade Fortnight.

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