Cocoa cooperative forum: Representation for farmers in Ghana

Cocoa cooperatives developed a strong governance structure that will enable them to speak up and be represented across all decision-making affecting their livelihood in Ghana.

cocoa cooperative forum participants

Empowered cocoa farmers in Ghana

Cocoa farmers in Ghana have had little to no representation at the various levels of decision-making within the cocoa value chain. They have consequently received minor consideration of the challenges they face.

The 2022 Cocoa Barometer report indicates that power inequalities in decision-making affect farming communities and producer groups due to poor representation at the national level.

For cocoa farmer cooperatives to participate at the highest levels of decision-making, there must exist some internal cohesion and adherence to corporate governance practices. Otherwise, the absence of these creates a barrier. Many cocoa cooperatives remain divided on key issues that affect sustainable cocoa production, and thus must work together to present a united front.

Seth Kankam Nuamah, Programme Manager for RECLAIM Sustainability!

Solidaridad created a platform for 78 representatives from 26 cocoa cooperatives across cocoa-growing areas in the country, value chain actors and key stakeholders to discuss varied issues related to cocoa pricing, living income, deforestation and child labor. 

The goal was to establish a strong and vibrant cooperative platform for collective advocacy actions, glean solutions from the rich resource pool of participants and synergize approaches towards attaining sustainable cocoa production. 

Harnessing institutional capacity 

Through a plenary session, representatives from the various cooperatives identified structural and capacity gaps within the various cooperatives, proposing remedies in line with corporate governance practices.

The forum established a synergized cooperative front united on the issues that affect sustainable cocoa production and collectively focused on the actions required to mitigate those issues. To demonstrate solidarity, the cooperatives signed a Memorandum of Understanding to signify their dedication towards building consensus and their commitment toward achieving the advocacy goals set out at the forum. 

cocoa cooperative forum participants and the programme manager
RECLAIM Sustainability! Programme Manager Seth Kankam Nuamah interacts with forum participants.

Aligning interests to become more efficient

“The forum has highlighted the importance of leaving the silo approach behind and coming together to establish a quasi-union structure that advocates for our interests. This will benefit the entire cocoa cooperative,” said Madam Faustina Adu Boateng, a member of Asunafo cocoa cooperative. “There are groups such as teachers’ unions, and workers’ unions that are well represented and participate at different levels of decision-making in Ghana. They are able to achieve this because they work as a collective body. I believe we, as cocoa cooperatives, can take inspiration from this.” 

We had an opportunity to reflect on the practices adopted in Cote d’Ivoire for cooperative participation, and this has emphasized the need for an umbrella organization for cocoa farmers in Ghana. The success of this umbrella will be largely dependent on strong partnerships with organizations such as Solidaridad who will help shape our capacity.  

Moses Asiedu, secretary of the national board member of the World Cocoa Farmers Organisation

Strengthening cooperatives for sustainable cocoa production

Through the RECLAIM Sustainability! programme, Solidaridad seeks to ensure that the interest, voices and rights of farmers workers, and citizens are represented and heard in public and private policy decisions for decent working conditions, sustainable use of natural resources and fair distribution of value and benefits throughout the chain.

In West Africa, the RECLAIM Sustainability! programme is implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Sierra Leone by Solidaridad and TrustAfrica with funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.

In Ghana, Solidaridad aims to amplify farmers’ voices in decision-making and deepen efforts toward sustainable cocoa production through the programme. We are working with cocoa cooperatives to harness the benefits of interdependence, build their institutional capacities and develop a more coordinated and collaborative approach towards advocacy.