The taste of chocolate, in whatever form, is associated with many things : romance, cold winter mornings and unfortunately, weight gain. However, despite any shortcoming it may have, chocolate has been associated with delight, pleasure and enjoyment for several centuries by old and young, male and female. Just how much do YOU know about it?
Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean which was first discovered by Christopher Columbus on his journey to the ‘New World’. For the longest time it was a drink exclusive to the wealthy class due to its high cost in Britain.
The story of cocoa in Ghana is shrouded in myth but the legend states that the cocoa bean was first taken to Ghana by a blacksmith named Tetteh Quarshie, who, in 1895, returned to his farm in the Eastern Region of Ghana with cocoa beans “in his pocket” from the island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea where there was already intensive plantation production of “slave-grown” cocoa. Despite its dubious start, cocoa is now one of Ghana’s major exports and in its prime accounted for up to 66% of Ghana’s foreign exchange however has now stabilized at around 35-40%. Between 1911 and 1976 Ghana was the world’s leading producer, contributing between 30-40% of the world’s total output.
Initially cocoa production was managed by the Ghana Cocoa Board, a government-owned monopoly. However due to a more liberal atmosphere in Ghana in the 90’s, people were allowed to start their own cocoa-buying bodies. Subsequently, Kuapa Kokoo was set up in 1993. Meaning ‘good cocoa farmer’ in Twi, it is a cocoa-growing co-operative set up by a number of leading cocoa farmers who recognized the opportunity to organise farmers and found a company to market their own cocoa. The co-operative is also co-owner of the Divine Chocolate Company in the UK which markets chocolate products made from cocoa grown by Kuapa Kokoo. This cooperative has been essential as it has uplifted the farmers, especially women and contributed to the health and education of the people of Kumasi where it is situated.