I was in Ghana recently to join Kuapa Kokoo for their 15th delegates conference, followed by their AGM in the grounds of Knust University in Kumasi. 3,000 delegates gathered from all Kuapa’s 1,300 village societies making the journey from across Ghana’s cocoa growing regions. Gloriously dressed in Kuapa’s ceremonial cloth, cut to every shape and size you can imagine, men and women, some with their children in tow, creating a real spirit of celebration. Seth Gogoe from Twin travel up with me, Ernest Adzim from FLO was in attendance with Emilie Persson a Swedish intern and Divine supporter. Cord Budde, the owner of the factory that makes Divine, was also there. The AGM is always an occasion to meet old friends.
The delegate conference on the Wednesday broke into three groups. One to look at the proposed Fairtrade premium Projects, one to review Kuapa’s policy on child labour and one to discuss the final amendments to the new constitution. The seriousness and patience of all the delegates despite the heat and the complexity of the discussions was impressive. This was the culmination of months of consultation. There was lots of debate in English and Twi (their local language) and when people returned for the plenary, there was a sense of a job well done and the right decision being taken. The evening ended with a song and a prayer.
Next morning the AGM was opened by the President Mr PK Buah dressed in ceremonial white and black Kente cloth. He presented Mr Aduse Puko the New Managing Director of the trading company and Mr Arthur the new Chief Officer of the Union. The delegates listened attentively and voted, and in good Kuapa tradition there was music and dancing to break up the business. I reported on how Divine had performed over the last year in UK and USA and I welcomed the work they had done on the constitution. Regina translated my speech and Comfort Kumeah stood with me in support.
Divine received a citation from the President for all the work it has done over the last 10 years – you can see what it says on our website.
A citation was also given to Francis who has worked as a driver for Kuapa since 1993, he had become the chief driver and was now retiring after 15 years service.
The membership agreed the new constitution and the Fairtrade Premium Project plans and accepted the annual reports. The Managing Director announced the payment of the Government bonus to great applause, and the AGM voted to invest a large proportion of the £33,602 Dividend from Divine Chocolate in their US Divine business.
Awards were made for the most productive societies in each area, they included machetes and spraying equipment. There was also an award made to a disabled farmer who had managed to get his society to deliver 2,000 bags of cocoa. He was awarded a motorized quad bike and I handed over the key.
A doctor made a long speech about the importance of health and hygiene emphasising how important it was people to take medical advise from properly qualified doctors and then to take any medicine as prescribed.
The AGM closed with another song and prayer and members began their long hot trek home until next year….
Posted by Sophi