ACOPAGRO - Cooperativa Agraria Cacaotera Acopagro Ltda
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.
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
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
Bonuses to Increase Production
Fair Trade premiums were used to offer bonuses to individual members so they could obtain agricultural resources, such as organic fertilizer, to increase their yields.
New Equipment, Technicians and Quality Education
Premium funds were used to purchase two computers and to make repairs to a truck, increasing the cooperative's export abilities. The cooperative also contracted two or three permanent technicians to assist members with quality control. A leaflet was published with technical advice on post-harvest activities.
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.