Producer Profiles

ACOPAGRO - Cooperativa Agraria Cacaotera Acopagro Ltda

Cooperativa Agraria Cacaotera Acopagro Ltda. (ACOPAGRO) is a cocoa producer located in the San Martín region of Peru. It was formed in 1992 amid a socioeconomic crisis caused by the cultivation of cocoa and the presence of armed groups. The association was initially funded by the United Nations' cocoa cultivation program as a response to the crisis. In 1997, 27 producers formally established the cooperative.

Today, ACOPAGRO has over 1,800 members spanning four different provinces in the San Martín state. It works to promote cocoa cultivation, ensure market stability and raise income levels and product quality for farmers. Although family revenues depend largely on the sale of cocoa, members also raise animals for consumption and additional sales. Amongst the community's greatest challenges is access to sanitary services (particularly clean drinking water), educational opportunities for children and adequate health care. The cooperative sought Fair Trade certification for these reasons, using Fair Trade premiums to directly overcome these needs.

ACOPAGRO has been improving its technical capacity, productivity and social inclusion through research and consistent training. The cooperative is considered one of the best models of the Alternative Development program in Peru. It has been awarded high honors in specialty markets for its quality cocoa. In 2000, ACOPAGRO gained organic certification on 60 percent of its products. They became Fair Trade Certified™ in 2004.
 

Quotable

We use the Fair Trade premium to improve the farm, to pay for roads so we can transport the cocoa; to improve the collection center. It also helps pay for facilities so we can have a communal area to meet.  

Washington Rodriguez Ortiz

Before cocoa, there was lots of farmers growing coca everywhere – everyone was a cocalero. The region was filled with terrorists, drug dealers, and military everywhere. It was dangerous – people were killed every day. Now we can make a living growing other crops, such as cocoa, and Fair Trade helps us to do this.  

Washington Rodriguez Ortiz

Programs

Improvements to Collection Centers and Quality

Premium funds were used to purchase cement and corrugated iron sheets for collection centers. Funds were also used to teach workers at these collection centers the best practices to improve the quality of their final product, such as the use of blankets and solar dryers.

Organic Production and Certification

Fair Trade premiums were used to pay for the cooperative’s “Bio Latina Certification.” Funds were also used to help incorporate 45 partners in the transition to organic methods. A total of 26 of the farmers’ children were trained in organic production. The cooperative believes some of these students will become auditors for their internal inspection program in the future.

Paying Loan for Facility Construction

Premium funds have helped pay off a loan from the Intercontinental Bank that was used to construct an operations site.