The Central de Cooperativas El Ceibo (El Ceibo) is named after the majestic and deep-rooted tree of Andean rainforest that grows steadily and seems to never die; a symbol of the cooperative’s strength –the Ceibo tree. In the 1960’s, a Bolivian government-led cooperative, in which many cocoa farmers were forced to join, went bankrupt and, alone, farmers were unfamiliar with the market and could no longer transport their cocoa to major cities. Many deferred to local intermediaries who paid meager but immediate cash for their crop. These conditions led farmers in the early 1970’s, beginning in the Alto Beni region of northeastern Bolivia, started forming small cocoa producer cooperatives. In 1977, 37 of these cooperatives united to form the stronger El Ceibo in 1977. El Ceibo, committed to protecting their native rainforest, became the first certified organic cocoa cooperative in the world in 1988. Utilizing a tiered cultivation system, El Ceibo works to protect against the degradation of their lands using natural and organic methods. Today, El Ceibo farmers grow an estimated 70 percent of the total organic cocoa cultivated in Bolivia. They are also the first to have processed its own cocoa into powder form.
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