CONACADO - Coordinadora Nacional Cacaocultores Dominicanos
Founded in 1988 as a response to low global cocoa prices, CONACADO aims to decrease members' dependency on middlemen by exporting their products directly to consumer markets.
CONACADO is a democratically-run cooperative
made up of 182 small-scale producer associations from seven regional “blocks” and an estimated 10,040 farmer members, each working on lands averaging 4.3 hectares, or 10.6 acres, in size.
Fair Trade market sales have enabled CONACADO to set up a nursery that supplies low-cost plants to farmers, so they can grow most of their own food. Cocoa accounts for 90 percent of CONACADO's members’ cash income, so becoming Fair Trade Certified™ has made a significant difference in farmers’ lives.
The cooperative also implements a “Cocoa Tour” ecotourism program which teaches international visitors about cocoa farming and the impact of Fair Trade. Farmers are trained as tour guides and members of the cooperative’s Women’s Community Group also help with this project. Other women from cocoa-growing families have started small businesses making cocoa wine, jams, bakery goods, chocolate truffles and community crafts which are displayed and sold from a nearby artisan hut. The chocolates and truffle equipment were funded by USAID, the rest by the Fair Trade premium.
My family hasn’t personally benefitted from the Fair Trade premium-funded projects, no, but how many farmers from my association have now been able to send their kids to school? Several. And when I talk about benefits, a benefit is not something I receive for myself or something I can put in my pockets. A benefit is something our entire community receives. They did not renovate my house because I did not have this need and I thank God for this. For me, if programs benefit someone in need, it represents a benefit for the entire community, and this includes me. ”
Ramón Figueroa is a CONACADO member. He has seven children, now adults between the ages of 22 and 32. They have all been able to attend and finish school, with one eventually becoming a professor. Ramón did not have the opportunity to complete his education, but is thankful to have provided one for all his children. ”
We are very grateful to see that every day, our company and our product is sold and distributed across the world market. Please purchase our product so we can enjoy other facets of life. ”
New Drying Centers, Warehouses and Community Center
By storing members' crops in warehouses and transporting them to markets, CONACADO helps small producers attain higher prices. CONACADO has also helped producers improve the quality of their cocoa by constructing five new fermentation centers, eight drying stations and two central warehouses. The cooperative has also contributed to the construction of the community center and library.
Computer and Community Centers
Conacado allocated Fair Trade premium funds to build a new computer room and community center with an additional meeting space at their partner cooperative, La Milagrosa. Children of cooperative members enrolled in school use these new facilities to complete assignments. Before the center was built, students traveled 14 kilometers for the closest computer.
The cooperative invested in a rural health care center when a community’s clinic failed to meet the community’s basic health needs. They also provided free medical assistance and informational sessions on STDs.