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Cocoa Innovator, Koa, Secures $3.5m Investment From Climate Adaptation, Smallholder Farmer Funds

With the new investment, Koa will set up a new processing facility in Ghana, increasing production capacity more than tenfold by 2024 and creating additional income for up to 10,000 cocoa farmers

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Team Koa

The Landscape Resilience Fund (LRF) and IDH Farmfit Fund have announced a $3.5 million investment (EUR 3.13 million) in Koa, a sustainable cocoa fruit company. 

This investment will support Koa to set up a new processing facility in Ghana, increasing production capacity more than tenfold by 2024 and creating additional income for up to 10,000 cocoa farmers.

As a young social enterprise committed to sustainability and creating shared value, Koa’s fresh look at the cocoa pulp as a source of value has immense potential to boost the incomes and resilience of smallholder cocoa farmers in Ghana.

Commenting on the investment, Francis Appiagyei-Poku, Finance Director of Koa Impact Ghana said: “The investment from the IDH Farmfit Fund and the Landscape Resilience Fund allows us to extend our positive impact to new cocoa growing regions in Ghana. Making use of the previously lost cocoa pulp, we can increase and diversify smallholder farmers’ income. This investment in a new factory will create additional income for up to 10,000 cocoa farmers. Furthermore, the new production plant will create 250 jobs and new vocational opportunities for communities in rural Ghana.”

Globally, there are over 270 million smallholder farmers who lack access to affordable finance to invest in their farms, increase productivity, and transition towards climate resilient agriculture. To meet this challenge, the Landscape Resilience Fund and the IDH Farmfit Fund are working to increase farmers’ income and improve their resilience in the face of climate change.

Sadiq Ashietu joined Koa farmers this year. Thanks to the income increase, she is now able to pay her labourers on time. She is also able to support her children better in school and opened her own shop. Sadiq said: “Regarding our cocoa, we noticed less theft cases since we harvest, break and send them to Koa for processing as we get them delivered home for further processing. Now we have much more control over our beans than before.”

Sarah Afful, a cocoa farmer from the community Assin Ayigbo working with Koa, feels the disruption of seasonal patterns. “I experience unusually heavy or lack of rainfall and that negatively affects my cocoa yield.” Using more of a cocoa farm’s potential in an efficient and sustainable way is therefore key to strengthen resilience.

Koa has unlocked a new decentralised value chain around the previously unused cocoa pulp which boosts farmer income and improves climate resilience in two ways. Firstly, it provides a meaningful increase in the income of cocoa farmers, paying them on the spot while transparently recording transactions. The whole process reduces food waste by 40%, thus, enhancing the land use of cocoa farms and reducing their carbon footprint.

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In this process, the cocoa pods are opened on the farm, the fruit pulp is extracted using mobile solar units in the nearby communities and then pasteurised in a local factory creating jobs in these rural communities. 

This novel ingredient can be used for a variety of innovative creations in the food industry from juice, chocolate, pastries, icecreams to savoury products.

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Secondly, by training farmers in sustainable agricultural practices and post-harvest processing, Koa is able to reduce the environmental impact of cocoa farming.

Barbara Visser, COO of the IDH Farmfit Fund, said: “Koa’s innovation makes it possible for farmers to increase their (living) income significantly by selling their waste product, without having to make additional investment costs at their farms. Koa furthermore aims to create gender equal employment opportunities in rural communities and targets to reach 40% women farmers, which are in line with core objectives of the IDH Farmfit Fund. We are very pleased that today’s investment will support Koa in responsible value creation in the cocoa supply chain. These kinds of disruptive and innovative solutions are key to catalyse the system change that is needed to improve the lives of these cocoa farmers.”

Commenting on the investment, Urs Dieterich, Managing Director of the Landscape Resilience Fund said: “Increasing investment in adaptation will empower communities to better adapt to extreme weather events driven by climate change. That’s what today’s investment is all about — supporting an inspiring, socially and environmentally grounded business to reach even greater heights and have even more climate impact. But climate adaptation is chronically underfinanced. We must go further, faster, to ensure climate adaptation is a core pillar of our response to the climate crisis.”

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