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October 11, 2023

Inside the Lives of Ghanaian Koa Farmers: A Day in Their World

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Join us on a journey to the heart of Ghana, where the daily routines of cocoa farming form an integral part of life. Our partnership with the cocoa fruit juice producer Koa, which has been ongoing since 2021, is dedicated to bringing you closer to the farmers behind your favorite chocolate products. Today, we invite you to step into the world of the farmers Faustina, Kwati, and Akua and experience their typical day.

Three farmers in Ghana

Kwati, Faustina, and Akua (from left to right)

A Day on the Cocoa Farm

The day begins with the faintest hint of light, as the sun's first rays gently touch the horizon. Faustina, Kwati, and Akua rise early, guided by the familiar routine of tending to their cocoa farms. These dedicated farmers are the backbone of this cocoa supply chain, so let's delve into the details of their daily lives.

1. Harvesting Cocoa Pods

In the morning, the farmers head to their well maintained cocoa groves. With machetes and large baskets in hand, they begin the day by harvesting cocoa fruits from the trees. The cocoa pods, displaying vibrant colors ranging from green to golden yellow, are holding the cocoa beans that will eventually transform into the delicious chocolate you find on supermarket shelves.

Yellow cocoa pods in a bowl
Farmer with fruits

2. Gathering and Collaborating

The harvested cocoa pods are collected in large bowls. Teamwork is key in this process, and the farmers often work in pairs, sharing stories and singing together as they gather the fruits. These partnerships are not only about productivity but also the bonds of camaraderie that develop among the farmers.

3. Extracting Cocoa Pulp

Next comes the complex task of extracting the cocoa beans from the pods. The farmers carefully cut open the fruits and collect the flavorful pulp into buckets. This pulp plays a critical role in the pursuit of fair compensation, a key aspect of the partnership between Koa and Seedtrace.

4. The Journey to the CMPU

The Koa staff picks up the buckets filled with pulp and packs them on tricycles to transport the harvest to a Community Mobile Processing Unit (CMPU) within the community.

5. Transforming Pulp into Juice

At the CMPU, the cocoa pulp is processed to extract its juice. This innovative approach not only provides financial benefits but also serves to reduce food waste by utilizing the pulp, which would typically go to waste. The additional income is used to pay workers' salaries, support education by covering school fees, take care of medical expenses, or save for important life milestones, such as building a home. Sarah, another cocoa farmer, shared with Koa the impact cocoa fruit pulp is having on her life:

“As a result of working with Koa, I make additional income from the sale of cocoa fruit juice which I have used to undertake various activities. The earnings have enabled me to renovate part of my house. I have been able to take two additional cocoa farms on contract thereby increasing the number of cocoa farms I have from two to four. I am able to help support my children’s school fees, our electricity bills, our hospital bills. I have even been able to purchase a plot of land on which I am planning to raise a building.

My children used to attend a public school, but they would miss school on a regular basis, as I always missed deadlines for paying their school fees. Then there was the issue of money for their upkeep while in school. Now after four years of working with Koa, I have been able to take my children to private school where the fees are relatively higher and sometimes I even pay their fees in advance before the term begins, all because of earnings from the sale of cocoa [fruit] juice to Koa.”

6. Fair Payments via Mobile Money

Committed to fair compensation, Koa facilitates seamless payment processing through mobile money, ensuring that the farmers receive their rightful earnings promptly and efficiently. Koa follows a direct trade approach, empowering farmers to receive their income directly and transparently on the day of harvest, utilizing mobile money for secure and efficient transactions. This method not only empowers farmers but also ensures full payment traceability.

This process is made possible through the use of blockchain technology, an advanced database system that plays a pivotal role. It records data in interconnected blocks within an immutable chain, maintaining chronological consistency. As a result, no alterations or deletions can occur within the chain without unanimous consent from the network. If you want to know more about how we prove fair payments using blockchain, check out our case study with Koa here.

One farmer receiving payment via mobile money
Koa employee with a tablet

7. Beans Return to Farmers

Now that the cocoa juice is extracted, the cocoa beans are returned to the farmers, all set to commence their journey through the cocoa supply chain. Thus, eventually making their way to consumers as chocolate products.

Impact and the Path Forward

Through the collaboration between Koa and Seedtrace, a profound transformation has unfolded for more than 2,000 smallholder cocoa farmers in Akrofuom, Ghana. Their collective earnings of GHS 2.3 million (USD 300,000) within the initial five years stand as a testament to the impact achieved. The recent inauguration of a second factory in Akim Achiase heralds a promising extension of this positive influence to an additional 10,000 farmers. Also during the first five years, 800 tons of pulp were upcycled.

Koa's ongoing commitment and collaboration have not only made them a successful enterprise but also a beacon of hope in the drive for sustainable agricultural practices. Their pioneering approach to cocoa fruit upcycling and farmer empowerment demonstrates a strong dedication to addressing global sustainability challenges.

Rainforest in Ghana
Farmer Faustina with two Koa employees

In conclusion, a typical day for a Ghanaian cocoa farmer like Faustina, Kwati, and Akua is marked by determination and hard work, driven by the pursuit of a brighter future. Seedtrace is proud to be part of this journey, reshaping the cocoa industry one cocoa bean at a time together with Koa. Contact us for more information or to discuss how we can realize positive impact and transparency in your supply chain!

Sources

The information and visuals presented above have been provided by the dedicated team of Koa Impact Ghana Ltd as well as through interviews of Koa with the farmers Faustina, Kwati, Akua, Sarah, and Frank Owusu.

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