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.
We don’t have to wait for it to rain because this structure is permanent. ”
Domingo Batista, Community Member
The connections and additional funds the Fair Trade market has generated, more than anything, has helped us develop socially. The money comes through CONACADO down to the association member level and helps us establish valuable social and development programs within our communities. From projects created to repair our roads to the construction of schools, premium-funded programs benefit everyone, not just one individual. There are many needs here, and many things we lack. The needs outweigh what is produced, but at least through Fair Trade, producers are subsisting and are able to invest back into the community through social programs. I would like to thank you, the consumer, because you are making it possible for us to produce cocoa of such high quality and still have buyers. ”
Fair Trade is very important for us. It has helped our community and family, and we have better infrastructure. Our way of life has changed for the best. It has validated growers and our products. ”
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.
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.
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.