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 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.
Our biggest worry is ensuring we have a guaranteed market for our cocoa, which would provide us with a long-term sustainable livelihood.
Santos Mendoza, president of CONACADO
With Fair Trade we have accomplished a lot in my community. When we decided to become a part of the Fair Trade market, we were selling our cocoa at the minimum price of 400 Dominican pesos for one quintal. With Fair Trade, we began selling it at a minimum price of 700 pesos. This specific example has helped us a lot, but we have tons of examples… In Cercadillo, we now have a modern and convenient local store and a water well in the community. A classroom at our school has been renovated. I know of a man in this community, he was very poor and with many children. His house was in bad conditions and he could not afford the renovation. Thanks to Fair Trade and the efforts of community members, he now lives in what almost seems like a completely new home. Fair Trade also permits us to repair some roads which is important for us to transfer our cocoa. ”
[To Fair Trade buyers] With all my heart, I want to thank them because they consume our products. I am glad they are satisfied. They consume a high quality product we are proud of and the more they consume them, the more proud and satisfied I am. ”
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.
Water Aqueduct for Community
In the communities of Rincon Hondo, La Laguna de Coto and La Guazarita, more than 300 families benefited from the installation of a water aqueduct. Before, women here had to walk several kilometers to the river to fetch their water. With six groups of about 20 and 30 workers from these communities, working daily for five months, hammering the roads by hand and walking three hours to river, the water aqueduct was completed.
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.