Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Czech NGOs visit Fair Trade cooperatives in Ghana

A group of eight Austrians and two Czechs made a study trip to Ghana to find out how the Fair Trade cooperatives work in this West African country. The study journey was organized in August 2007 by Welthaus Linz. The two Czech participants from the Society for Fair Trade and Development Education in Brno and from the Ecumenical Academy Prague were supported by TRIALOG.

The main programme were two visits to Fair Trade cooperatives dealing with Fair Trade food, respectively with Fair Trade handicrafts: The first cooperative is called Kuapa Kokoo and is a cocoa farmers' union consisting of 40.000 farmers’ families. The group was presented the procedures and the way of processing cocoa plants and cocoa products, as well as the advantages of the Fair Trade market.

The other cooperative called Kalangu produces traditional „djembo“ drums, a typical musical instrument used in Ghana for centuries. Thanks to Fair Trade, high professional quality goes along with profit for the association which is used for example for further education of junior association members.

There were many other interesting meetings like visits to Bishop Joseph Afrifah or to the Rector of a Catholic University in Cape Coast. Last but not least, the study group got the chance to get acquainted with the Ghanaian traditional way of life and wonderful nature. All participants who at home work in the field of Fair Trade and development education, got the chance to learn about the daily reality of their African counterparts.

According to the Czech participants, apart from the very valuable personal experience the biggest benefit and at the same time the best motivation for the future work in Fair Trade was to realize that Fair Trade is not just an idea but works in practice. They saw that the conditions of the farmers are improving, the benefits of Fair Trade are used directly for the various social and educational purposes and the flow of money is very transparent. The study visit met the expectations of all participants. The participating representatives of Fair Trade NGOs in the Czech Republic aim to use their experiences and new contacts to shorten the business chain between producers and customers in the future.

Information provided by Tomas Bily, Society for Fair Trade and Development Education in Brno. For more information on the study visit, please contact him at: tomas@fairtrade.cz

All photos: copyright Tomas Bily
Photo 1 (on the right): Children of the Fair Trade producers of the cooperative Kuapa Kokoo in a village north of Kumasi.
Photo 2 (on the left): Drum producer of the cooperative Kalangu in Accra.

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