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Asunafo

ASUNAFO, COCOA (PRODUCER), GHANA

Asunafo is a fast-growing Ghanaian cocoa producer, despite many of the challenges faced by economic and environmental factors. They registered as a co-operative in 2011 with just over a thousand farmers.

Since then, they have grown to a membership of more than 6,500, over half of which are women. Farmers
sell their dried beans in bulk to a local buyer licensed and accredited by a government-led body called Cocobod. 

At the beginning of each season, Cocobod sets the price for cocoa beans so that farmers can benefit from a consistent income. The co-operative is based in one of the few African countries that has its cocoa price determined in this way. 

Paying the price for cocoa

Asunafo is often under pressure to meet deadlines for shipping. To help with this uncertainty, Asunafo has looked for diversification opportunities for farmers. Along with exploring the growth of different crops, the co-operative created a second income stream by selling farming products. They came to Shared Interest for finance to support this side of their business.

Thanks to Shared Interest investors,Asunafo can now purchase and provide the essential products required for their farming methods. Nana Sarpong, the chairperson from Asunafo said: “The loan from Shared Interest has allowed us to purchase the recommended farm inputs in bulk at a reduced price and made it available to our farmers at the right time of application.” 

Read more about Asunafo in QR 113.

The impact of Covid-19

Ghanaian cocoa co-operative Asunafo, who have been praised for their response to the coronavirus crisis. The group recognised the needs of their local community and donated items to help with sanitisation, along with funds provided by ethical chocolate brand, Tony’s Chocolonely and Mondelez’s Cocoa Life.

John continued: “Fortunately, Asunafo’s cocoa production has increased significantly since they became a Shared Interest customer two years ago, and the majority of this season’s cocoa had already been harvested. The challenge now lies around shipping.” 

The co-operative had also recently introduced several wellbeing initiatives, which are now proving vital. These include a dispensary for the health needs of workers, and facilities for those who had diversified into soap making. Asunafo had trained 25 farmers in liquid and solid soap making before the pandemic began, using the leftover cocoa elements and shea butter. Previously sold at the local market the liquid soap is now donated to the community, using funds from Asunafo’s Fairtrade Premium. 

John told us: “Asunafo members have also formed a women’s group, to sew face masks with local fabrics for free distribution. This is a crucial initiative, as the wearing of masks is becoming mandatory in Ghana.” The co-operative also supports a local radio talk show with over 25,000 listeners, which was originally set up to help farmers share agricultural best practice. The subject area has now been adapted in light of the pandemic, to help farmers learn how to protect themselves from Covid-19, improving communication and providing accurate advice. 

Asunafo President, Daniel Amponsah Gyinayeh, said: “As a farmer co-operative, we are very concerned about our members and their welfare. We are also in our own way joining forces with local health authorities to create more public awareness and education. We are grateful to all our partners and supporters who have made it possible for us to reach out to communities as part of our contribution to helping prevent the spread of the disease.”

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