From cocoa farmer to international Kuapa ambassador!

11 September 2009

 

Kuapa Kokoo National Executive and staff. (Cecilia Appianim second from left)

Kuapa Kokoo National Executive and staff (and Sophi and Sandy from Divine) - Cecilia Appianim second from left

I am Cecilia Appianim. I joined Kuapa Kokoo back in 1998 – the year that Divine was born.  I am a cocoa farmer from Agona Swedru, in the Central Region of Ghana.

Coming from a community where women are not given the opportunity to partake in active decision making processes, being a member of Kuapa Kokoo has been an eye opener. I was attracted to Kuapa when I realised I could gain more in terms of bonuses paid for selling my cocoa, as well as sharing in development projects undertaken for my community. The income generating activities specially designed for women in my Kuapa society have also gone a long way to empower me financially.

I was elected National Financial Secretary of Kuapa Kokoo Union about three years ago. I work closely with the Treasurer to ensure that the finances of the union are in order. I contested with a man and had a land slide victory. I guess it is because everyone knows women can be better trusted with money than men! My job is very challenging but with the training I have received form Kuapa Kokoo, i have been able to handle it.

I have had the opportunity to travel to the United States of America on two occasions. On both occasions I had the chance to tell people about what fairtrade and the ownership of Divine Chocolate means to members of Kuapa Kokoo.

Cecilia and Kuapa colleague at the Library of Congress in Washington DC

Cecilia and Kuapa colleague at the Library of Congress in Washington DC

My trip to US was an eye opener! I was able to see big supermarket chains that stock our Divine Chocolate! It was amazing and I felt really proud that my cocoa had been turned into something so sweet! Things were very different from what happens over here in Ghana. I met a lot of people who support fairtrade and Divine and I entreated then to buy more fairtrade so that villages like Asentem could enjoy good drinking, mobile clinics etc.

Ownership of Divine chocolate has enabled me to meet highly placed people I never imagined I will meet. Divine has indeed given us recognition in the chocolate world. This is evidenced in the way people trooped to the various centres to listen to me.

Kuapa farmer Cecilia Appianim at Kuapa HQ with Divine

Kuapa farmer Cecilia Appianim at Kuapa HQ with Divine

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Preparing for the Kuapa AGM

3 July 2009
Christiana Ohene-Agyare, Kuapa farmer and National Executive member

Christiana Ohene-Agyare, Kuapa farmer and National Executive member

Hello, my name is Christiana Ohene-Agyare. I am the recorder of Kwabeng Kuapa Kokoo Society and the National Treasurer of the Union.

Being a member of Kuapa Kokoo has taught me that whatever a man can do, a woman can also do and even better. The position of recorder is traditionally seen as a job for men but I realized I could perform that job better than the men and so I contested for it and won about 80% of the votes!

I have been appointed chairperson of the planning committee to organize this year’s Annual General Meeting which will be held on the 29th and 30th of July. This is a very big task but i am up to it! The AGM is the biggest event on the Kuapa Kokoo calendar! Over 2400 representatives from the various societies will be attending. We will also get the chance to decide on various projects for the coming year.

I must say that I have enjoyed a lot of benefits from Kuapa Kokoo and Fairtrade: Today, I am better able to look after my family- my two children are all in school. My daughter is in her final year at the Takoradi Polytechnic persuing a course in marketing. My son is also at the University of Science and Technology. I was able to put them in school because my income level has improved over the years.

My village Kwabeng also has a borehole that was built with Fairtrade funds. We do not have to walk long distance to fetch water anymore… there is clean portable water in the heart of the village.

I particularly like being a member of Kuapa Kokoo because it is very democratic. Every farmer is able to contribute their ideas when we have meetings. In Ghana, farmers are normally not consulted before decisions affecting us are taken. They just assume that farmer would like one thing or the other. Most of the time policy makers get it wrong! Kuapa Kokoo however, offers farmers an opportunity to decide for ourselves.

I am very proud to be a member of a cooperative that co-owns Divine Chocolate. Two members from Kuapa sit on their board. It is unique! I do not know any other organization in the world that has this kind of business relationship. People all over the world know Kuapa Kokoo because we co-own Divine and we are very proud of our chocolate company. I wish to entreat more people to buy Divine!