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Kumasi Drinks

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Soft drinks made from cocoa by-product give Ghanaian farmers extra income

Cocoa farmers in western Africa still earn far too little from their product. While making a documentary about this, journalist Lars Gierveld came across a solution more or less by accident. Now he runs a soft drink company that makes an impact.
By: Chantal Blommers

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Chocolate is a luxury product, yet the farmers who supply the cocoa live on the poverty line. Documentary maker Lars Gierveld traveled to Ghana to investigate why this happened and what can be done about it. There he accompanied farmers for months while they harvest and process the cocoa beans.

Doesn't taste like chocolate
“When the fruit is broken open to harvest the cocoa beans, fruit juice flows out. While harvesting the beans, I saw how that juice flowed into the ground. Occasionally it was collected by farmers and they drank the juice, but most of the time it disappeared into the earth.” If he tastes a little juice that has been collected, he is immediately converted. “Divine”, he describes in the documentary. Now he says: “A combination of lychee and mango. Not at all what you expect from juice from the cocoa fruit. It doesn't taste like chocolate at all, but is very fresh.”

The idea for Kumasi, a soft drink based on this juice, was born. “We were there to investigate the possibilities for farmers to earn a living income. By selling a residual product of the cocoa bean, they actually earn twice from the same product. That way they can supplement their income.”
Laborious process
The reality turned out to be a bit more difficult. The fact that the farmers in Ghana did not collect the juice themselves to sell is because there is quite a bit involved. “It is a laborious process. First of all, you need to catch it properly. You have to press and pasteurize it quickly. It's not easy. But we decided to go for it.”

In the Netherlands, Gierveld gathered people around him with knowledge of commerce and making an impact. Investors also signed up. Kumasi is now a fact: a drink based on the fruit juice of the cocoa bean. The taste is described on the website as 'extraordinary fresh-sweet mix of lychee, pear and white peach'. White grape, apple and lemon are added to the main ingredient of cocoa fruit juice. There is a juice and a sting variant. It is sold in the Netherlands in retail at, for example, Hema, Crisp and Albert Heijn and in the catering industry, for example at Anne & Max and the Coffee Company. There are also more and more foreign sales outlets, especially in Belgium and France.

Additional income
According to the company, the farmers who supply their juice to Kumasi currently earn 27 percent extra income per kilo of cocoa beans, while it costs the farmers hardly any extra effort. A Kumasi partner drives from farm to farm to squeeze the juice from the beans and immediately cool it with an advanced mobile solar-powered processing unit. “We strive to have as many Kumasi points of sale as possible, so that we can offer this revenue model to as many farmers as possible.”
Gierveld saw with his own eyes what it means for the affiliated farmers in Ghana. “I saw a village where there are now solar panels on roofs, so that they always have electricity. The whole community benefits from the fact that extra money is made.”

Living income
The extra income stream does not release cocoa producers from the obligation to pay the farmers in their chain a living income, Gierveld emphasizes. “Fortunately, we see that a lot is happening and that many companies are working to improve the situation for farmers. Kumasi has been given a place at the table and is discussing what can be improved.”

For Gierveld, a journalistic project took a completely different turn than he had expected. “I am now a full-time soft drink maker,” he laughs. “I am very excited that my career is now going in this direction. As a journalist you stand along the line and check, a very important task. Now I have to do it myself. For years I have punctured companies' untenable claims, so I am very aware that everything has to be right. But I believe in Kumasi and the impact we are making.”

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38 more agrees trigger social media ads

  • We Don't Have Time

    50 w

    Dear Wil Sillen Your climate love has received over 50 agrees! We have reached out to Kumasi Drinks by email and requested a response. I will keep you updated on any progress! To reach more people and increase the chance of a response, click the Share button above to share the review on your social accounts. For every new member that joins We Don't Have Time from your network, we will plant a tree and attribute it to you! /Adam, We Don't Have Time

    4
    • winnie nguru

      50 w

      Commendable. Farmers will now be empowered to keep producing

      • Peter Kamau

        50 w

        Well done Lars for this awesome discovery that has in turn ensured that farmers get more/extra monetary value for their produce.

        12
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