FUNDOPO - Fundación Dominicana de Productores Orgánicos
FUNDOPO has over 1,500 small and medium producers of organic cocoa from the regions of Villa ltagracia, Yamasa, Puerto Plata, Joba and Blanco Arriba, Nagua , Maimon and San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Republic. Through the production units, FUNDOPO unites farmers who live and grow cocoa in distant and mountainous regions, some where several major rivers originate. Through cocoa agro-forestry and conservation, the farmers of FUNDOPO play a key role in protecting the country’s water resources. A large part of the water supply for Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, originates from the regions in which FUNDOPO's cocoa farmers live.
FUNDOPO became Fair Trade Certified™ in 2005. They are governed by a representative body – called the General Assembly – which makes all cooperative decisions, including the uses of the Fair Trade premium. FUNDOPO’s board is further subdivided into several working committees including the Environmental Protection Commission, the Project Formulation and Monitoring Committee and the Premium Investment Committee.
FUNDOPO’s leaders claim great progress thanks to Fair Trade. Farmers are more aware of their role in the supply chain and are better informed to strategize and meet goals. However, scarcity of resources and lack of infrastructure may still, as other programs develop, keep the organization relying on its exporter.
Technical Assistance and Training
One of FUNDOPO’s primary goals is to increase the production quality and quantity of its members. As so, they have invested in training and technical assistance programs for members. Fair Trade premiums helped fund the hiring of an agronomist who trained farmers in the best practices to increase production levels and produce better quality beans.
Equipment and Infrastructure
In order to increase their productive capacity, farmers need better tools and facilities. FUNDOPO used Fair Trade premiums to purchase tarpaulins and boilers to dry and ferment the cocoa beans in preparation for sales. A regional collection center was built in San Francisco de Macoris and a meeting center at the La Joya communities. FUNDOPO also purchased a power generator, office chairs and a new computer for the Guaconejo unit.
The association has funded the repair and construction of churches and community centers in the towns of Maimon, Piedra Azul, Las Haineras and Las Quebraditas.
Improving Roads and Transportation
One of the greatest problems facing the cocoa growers of FUNDOPO is the lack of infrastructure and access to main roads. Because the local government lacks funding to pave and build new roads into rural communities, FUNDOPO has used Fair Trade premiums to create the infrastructure farmers need. Old roads were repaired and new roads built to connect villages to the main highway. Farmers are now more able to transport their goods to FUNDOPO’s collection centers.