The Coopérative Agricole Kavokiva de Daloa (CAKD) was founded in 1999 by 600 farmers in the department of Daloa, the heart of the cocoa-growing region of Côte d’Ivoire - a country that produces about 40 percent of the cocoa in the world. The Ivorian cocoa sector provides a livelihood for one million small farmers, but it has suffered severely due to an acute lack of investment during the seven-year political limbo that has followed the 2002-2003 civil war. For example, the government has failed to provide adequate public infrastructure, with poorly maintained roads a particular problem for rural agricultural communities. The average member of Kavokiva farms 3 hectares of cocoa. Cocoa is the main source of income for most of these farmers, many of whom also grow Robusta coffee. They also grow fruit and vegetables for home consumption and women sell bananas and other crops at the local market on Fridays. Many villages have no electricity and drinking water is only available from the village well. Access to health care is inadequate and the nearest clinic or hospital can be more than 10 kilometers away. The illiteracy rate among agricultural communities is as high as 95 percent, as many schools in the area are poorly equipped and too far away for children to attend each day. In the face of these challenges, Kavokiva has undergone remarkable growth since it began organizing small-scale cocoa farmers. The Ivorian government and other entities have recognized Kavokiva as one of the best cooperatives in the country because of their high-quality cocoa and well-organized cooperative structure. Kavokiva was Fair Trade certified in 2004. As part of Fair Trade, Kavokiva’s mission is to improve the social and economic position of its members by supporting the production and marketing of their cocoa and coffee. This includes paying a higher price for members’ beans than local traders do and providing credit for farm inputs like fertilizers, and pesticides. They also provide credits for farmers to cover their children’s school fees and their families’ medical expenses. In the face of oftimes ineffective public services, members look to Kavokiva to provide their basic social needs. Even with large sales volumes, Kavokiva would be unable to finance all the necessary services. But Fair Trade is providing an opportunity for Kavokiva to put some of these urgently needed services in place – so that the benefits of building clinics and improved schools are extended to the whole community, not just Kavokiva members. The Fair Trade premium has meant that Kavokiva has been able to provide members with key benefits, including an annual bonus and investment in improving education and health services.
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