[Part 1] KOA'S BUSINESS EXPLOITS IN THE GHANAIAN COCOA SECTOR
Exposing Cocobod's lack of vision, the West’s sustainability hypocrisy, or Both?
In 2017, a German Investor who initially came to Ghana to explore the viability of a solar business ended up establishing the first cocoa-pulp manufacturing factory in Ghana. They recently also launched their blockchain-based transparency system to demonstrate to their customers how much they pay their partner farmers. While this business venture converts what was initially a waste material into products of economic value, creating an additional income stream for the farmer, it shouldn’t be left un-scrutinised. As a Ghanaian Cocoa farmer’s son, I remain sceptical of sweet talks from Western investors using “sustainability” as their talking point when describing the impact of their venture. At least Fairtrade has taught us a lesson on how they can help chocolate companies and governments’ virtue signal about their “Sustainability ambition” while pushing its cost to the ordinally poor smallholder cocoa farmers.
So, I interviewed some of KOA’s management members to understand their business and probe further to understand their transparency system. This series of articles will focus on exploring the business operations of KOA, their radical transparency digital platform and my concluding thoughts on each. Ultimately, KOA is doing what Ghana Cocoa Board has refused to incentivise indigenous Ghanaian investors to do, i.e. Cocoa by-product processing. With the cocoa sector remaining a blue ocean, its by-product commercialisation has massive potential. However, Ghana Cocoa Board has decided to focus on wasting the resources on strategies with short-term and long-term effects on cocoa farmers’ livelihoods. That is, Increased cocoa production with a harmful impact on price and increased barriers to entry by indigenous Ghanaian investors.
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