Chimpanzees in Ghana are tempted away from cocoa plants with fruit trees offering tasty (and less costly) alternatives ©Wrangel/123RF
Chimpanzees in Ghana are tempted away from cocoa plants with fruit trees offering tasty (and less costly) alternatives ©Wrangel/123RF

Case study: Divine Chocolate protects its crops

Ghanaian cocoa farmers benefit from the ethical practices of an Anglo-American chocolate brand. 

Chimpanzees love chocolate almost as much as humans do. For cocoa farmers in Africa, this poses a problem. How can they maintain the delicate ecosystem while stopping the primates from stealing their harvest and damaging trees?

The Ghanaian growers who supply cocoa to Anglo-American chocolate manufacturer Divine Chocolate have come up with a long-term solution: not only do they bang drums in the mornings to scare away the apes, but they are also tempting them away with banana and mango trees, whose fruits are quicker and cheaper to grow.

Growing alternative plants is part of an initiative by Divine Chocolate and non-profit organisation Twin, designed to improve the working conditions of African cocoa farmers and protect the environment. It also helps the farmers earn Fairtrade certification, ensuring better prices.

Divine Chocolate is 44% owned by Ghanaian farmers’ co-operative Kuapa Kokoo, which produces up to 5% of Ghana’s cocoa. The majority of Divine’s cocoa is grown in southern Ghana by Kuapa Kokoo, mainly on family-run farms of between two and three hectares. The cocoa trees fruit after three or four years, with each pod containing around 40 seeds. “It takes one tree’s whole crop for the year to make three big bars of Divine,” says a spokesperson.

Established 20 years ago, the Divine Chocolate brand is the result of the co-operative’s work with Twin to market a Fairtrade chocolate bar in the UK, using good quality ingredients, creating an international business where farmers get a fairer share of the wealth they’re helping to create.

Because the Divine products are certified by the Fairtrade Foundation, the growers enjoy favourable trading conditions, according to Divine, such as “a guaranteed, secure minimum price, an extra social premium payment for the farmers to invest in their own community programmes, long-term trading contracts, decent health and safety conditions.”

Latest figures (June 2017-18) show a turnover of £15m and a net profit of £3m, and it employs 35 people in the UK, US and Sweden. Today there are 100,000 members of Kuapa Kokoo over 1,200 villages.

Bean around the world…

The journey from cocoa tree to chocolate bar is a long and convoluted one. After a labour-intensive harvest, the beans are fermented and dried, packed into jute bags and taken to warehouses at the Ghanian port of Tema. State-run export agency Cocobod buys the beans from Kuapa Kokoo, and sells them on to a Dutch importer. The beans are then shipped to Europe where the chocolate bars are manufactured.

Finally, the bars are packaged, warehoused and distributed to countries including the UK, US, Scandinavia, South Korea, Japan and Australia.

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