Kuapa Kokoo gives farmers the vote

31 August 2010

The latest of Sophi’s posts from her recent trip to Kuapa Kokoo:

The Ghana Electoral Commission oversees the voting

The whole Kuapa Kokoo election process was supervised by the electoral commission of Ghana and the Ministry of Co-operatives.  On the day everyone lined up to vote in the scorching sun and had their credentials checked again before casting their votes.  Having completed the ballot papers they had their little finger dipped in purple ink so that they could not vote again.  As soon as all the delegates had finished voting the counting began.  Music played, people danced, but mainly they enjoyed the shade of the canopies while waiting for the results.  One thing for sure was that there would be a new President as Mr CK Buah the incumbent, had stood down as defined by the constitution.

A Kuapa member taking her turn to vote

Kuapa Kokoo democracy in action

27 August 2010

Sophi reports from Kuapa Kokoo’s AGM:

Kuapa Kokoo members gather for the AGM

This was my tenth AGM and this time I was delighted to be able to take my son Fenner with me to see democracy in action.

After much consultation, Kuapa Kokoo adopted a new constitution last year.  The biggest impact of the new constitution was to decentralise much of the power and week to week decision making to the 52 districts.  This meant that the AGM was the culmination of six months of elections. First at a village level, then at a District level and finally two representatives, a man and women gather at the AGM in Kumasi to elect the new National Executive Committee 

The AGM is an amazing feat of organisation. Getting 2600 representative from their villages to Kumasi, making sure they have all something to eat and drink, somewhere to stay and place to wash.  The venue was Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology Kumasi, the atmosphere was like a party.  Everyone had their credentials checked and were issued with Delegate’s cards.  On the first evening they listen to the hustings, the candidates presenting their vision for Kuapa.

Sophi and Fenner with a kind Kuapa member who stopped the banner from flapping in the wind

Quality will out: Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (Divine 85% Chocolate & Billington’s Sugar)

23 August 2010

By guest blogger Kavey Eats

Divine 85% Dark Chocolate

When I heard that Divine had launched a new 85% Dark Chocolate bar I immediately started thinking about recipes I could use it in.

It’s a surprisingly good eating bar – despite the high cocoa content it’s neither unpleasantly bitter nor overly crumbly (due to reduced fat content).

But I really wanted to cook with it.

Billington's Dark Muscavado Sugar

I’d also been wanting to cook with the Billington’s sugars I’d had in the store cupboard for a few months.



The recipe I chose is Nigella Lawson’s dense chocolate loaf cake. Simple, reliable and absolutely delicious, it’s even more of a winner when made with Divine 85% chocolate and Billington’s dark muscovado sugar.

I took some into work and, as well as the normal cakeitude (cake gratitude) – which would probably come my way even if I took in a shop-bought mediocrity – I received some proper glowing compliments.

A number of people showed real interest in the recipe, keen on the rich chocolate hit and curious about what gave it that deep caramel flavour (the unrefined dark muscovado sugar). I was even asked whether I might consider bringing some in every day!

Nigella’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake
(Using Divine 85% Dark Chocolate & Billington’s Dark Muscovado Sugar)

225 grams soft unsalted butter (I think mine was probably lightly salted, that’s what I normally have in the fridge)
375 grams Billington’s dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
100 grams Divine 85% dark chocolate, melted
200 grams plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
250 ml boiling water
23 x 13 x 7 cm loaf tin
I’m pretty sure we used lightly salted butter, that’s what’s usually in my fridge.
The original recipe calls for “best dark chocolate” which I would imagine is commonly interpreted as 70%.
•    Preheat oven to 190 degrees/ gas mark 5.
•    Grease and line the loaf tin. (Nigella adds that lining the tin is very important as this is a “very damp cake” but as we used silicone loaf moulds, we just buttered and floured generously.
•    Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the flour.
•    Cream the butter and sugar then add the eggs and vanilla extract, beating in well.
•    Fold in the melted and slightly cooled chocolate, taking care to blend well but not to overbeat. (Nigella advises that you want the ingredients well combined, not a light airy mass).
•    Gently add the flour (and bicarb) alternatively, spoon by spoon, with the boiling water until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter.
•    Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes.
•    Turn the oven down to 170 degrees/ gas mark 3 and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.
•    The cake will still be a bit squidgy inside so an inserted cake-tester or skewer won’t come out completely clean.
•    Place the loaf tin on a rack and leave to cool completely before turning out.
•    Nigella also mentions that she often leaves the cake for a day or so as, like gingerbread, it improves. She also points out that the cake often sags in the middle as it’s dense and damp.

New toilets Kuapa-style

16 August 2010
Sophi reports from Ghana:

Toilets built with Fairtrade premiums - Kuapa-style!

While we were in Ghana for the AGM, we visited Bipoa, one of the original Kuapa Kokoo village societies.   Kyei Kingsley, the Kuapa Kokoo recorder for the village welcomed us.   

Kuapa Recorder Kyei Kingsley weighs and pays for Issah Mohammed's cocoa

He showed us his cocoa shed where a poster of Divine’s Annual Report had pride of place on the wall. Then he took us to a farm so we could see how the new cocoa season was progressing.  We saw him weighing and buying sacks of cocoa beans from farmer Issah Mohammed.

Before we left the villages we popped to the toilet block that had been built using Fairtrade premiums.  I liked the Male and Female signs of people wearing Kuapa Kokoo Pa pa paa cloth.

Kuapa men - this way!

Kuapa Kokoo funds statue to celebrate Ghana’s cocoa farmers

13 August 2010
Sophi reports from Ghana:

Sophi at the grand unveiling

Wednesday 4th August : We attended the unveiling of a statue that Kuapa Kokoo commissioned to commemorate the significant role cocoa farmers have played in the social and economic history of Ghana.  Most people in Ghana have cocoa farmers to thank for their education as cocoa has been such a significant income generator over the last century.  The statue stands on a road island in central Kumasi where Kuapa Kokoo have their Headquarters.

Sculptor Samuel Tachie-Appiah and his statue

The Hon Samuel Sarpong, Metropolitan Chief Executive of Kumasi Metropolitan Authority cut the ribbon and unveiled the statue.

Hon Samuel Sarpong, Metropolitan Chief Executive of Kumasi Metropolitan Authority

The statue was designed by Samuel Tachie-Appiah  (tachieart@yahoo.com)  assisted by Francis Ankyiah and Daniel Boakye Boamah.

Kuapa Kokoo opens a new school

12 August 2010

Sophi reports from Ghana…

Monday 2nd August 2010: After driving for about an hour and a half from Kumasi, we arrived in Amankwatia to attend the formal opening of the new Junior Secondary School that Kuapa Kokoo has built. It was sponsored by The Manchester Co-operative to celebrate 5 years of sourcing Fairtrade cocoa from Kuapa.  They were also celebrating the building of the teacher’s house which had been paid for by Cord Budde the owner of the factory that makes Divine and The Co-operative’s Truly Irresistible range.

Celebrating the new school

Despite the fact that the village had no electricity we arrived to the heavy beat of the sound system run by the young men of the village to the delight of the children who were all strutting their stuff.

Once everyone had arrived, we sat under a canopy to protect us from the burning sun while we listened to the formal business. 

Ms Juliana Fremah

Ms Juliana Fremah, who is on the National Executive Committee (NEC) and is from Amankwatia, made the first speech welcoming us all to the village.  Ms Comfort Kumeah, the Chair of Kuapa Kokoo Farmers Trust, who had commissioned the school, spoke about how proud Kuapa was to build the school in this village and how important it was that farmers sell all their cocoa to Kuapa so that the co-operative can flourish and deliver more benefits to farmers.  Nicholas Adjei-Gyan was the MC and introduced children from the village performing dances and singing songs and doing role play illustrating how important it was to educate your daughters. 

Role play - why educate your daughters!

Ms Comfort Kumeah

The local representative from the Salvation Army which is going to run the school was keen to see if anyone can supply desks and chairs for the children to use.  I made a speech on behalf of The Co-operative and Cord Budde celebrating the formal opening of the building, and emphasizing that is was only possible because of Kuapa Kokoo, and that all the farmers should continue to sell their Pa Pa Paa cocoa to Kuapa so that Divine and The Co-operative can continue to support them by buying their cocoa.

 Nana Wiafe Akenten III then unveiled the plaques, first in the school and then in the teacher’s house and everyone looked inside  Then a celebratory feast of food was shared by everyone.    

Nana Wiafe Akenten III

The teacher's house funded by Cord Budde

NB Junior Secondary schools are for children from 13-15 (at this age education is no longer free).  It hopes to have 75 children in 3 classes.