New Zealand’s Whittaker’s chocolate assists Ghana cocoa communities with school building project
New Zealand-based Whittaker’s chocolate confectionery has supported two key bean sourcing cocoa cooperatives in Ghana, through developing much-needed school facilities for the West African communities, reports Neill Barston.
As the company explained, the move comes amid a wider focus for supporting farmers in the region, as well as building upon a recently formed relationship with Rainforest Alliance as part of its sustainability drive to increase product traceability.
Matt Whittaker, Whittaker’s co-chief operating officer, confirmed that engaging with the global environmental organisation would enable the business to invest in additional complementary initiatives that will positively impact on the Ghana cooperatives with which it works.
The family-owned chocolate business, located in Porirua, near Wellington, was founded in 1896, and presently produces a wide range of dark and milk based bars, as well as speciality items including a kiwi-shaped variety in homage to the country’s national bird.
“While travel this year has been disrupted, we typically visit our two Rainforest Alliance certified cocoa cooperatives in Ghana regularly and on our last trip there in late 2019, we asked them what more we could do to improve conditions for them and their communities.
“They both identified that their respective schools needed more washrooms, which are important for providing access to safe and hygienic facilities so children can concentrate on learning. We’re really pleased to have the chance to contribute something that they themselves identified as a real need, and look forward to continuing to work with them on ways we can help make a difference,” added Matt.
Whittaker’s has funded the design and construction of a 92sqm washroom at Kofi Gyan Primary & Junior High School in Asankrangwa and a 73sqm washroom at Gold Coast Camp Primary & Junior High School in Assin Fosu.
Built by local contractors, the washrooms feature new plumbing that reduces risks of wastewater contamination of land and waterways as well as improved hygiene. The new facilities were completed at the end of November, in time for them to be operational within the first term of Ghana’s school year.
As the company added, in the early stages of the global Covid-19 response, it also donated personal protective equipment – airfreighting 2,000 masks to Ghana and purchasing 2,200 bottles of hand sanitiser in Ghana to support the local economy – to help keep cocoa farmers at the Asankrangwa and Assin Fosu cocoa cooperatives safe.
Holly Whittaker, Whittaker’s co-chief operating officer, explained that these initiatives are all part of Whittaker’s wider sustainability-focused ‘Good Honest Chocolate’ programme, which includes initiatives to achieve full traceability of cocoa by 2025 in line with international commitments.
“We’re really pleased to be well advanced in delivering on those commitments, thanks to the new supply arrangements we have alongside our partnership with Rainforest Alliance for Ghanaian cocoa beans and through the full traceability we already have of the small amount of specialty beans we source from Samoa and Nicaragua through our direct relationships there,” says Holly.
The company’s complete range of 116 products that are crafted with Ghanaian cocoa beans is 100% Rainforest Alliance Certified. Rainforest Alliance is working on initiatives in Ghana to enable full traceability of Ghanaian cocoa beans, including geo-mapping of cocoa farms. It undertakes its own initiatives to support cocoa farmers in neighbouring Samoa under the Whittaker’s Cocoa Improvement Programme it has established there.