Confederación Nacional de Cacaocultores Dominicanos, or CONACADO, is one of the island country’s top three cocoa producing and exporting entities. Around 85 percent of cocoa grown by CONACADO’s members is certified organic, and most is grown under the shade of canopy fruit-producing trees. 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.
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