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.
My family hasn’t personally benefitted from the Fair Trade premium-funded projects, no, but how many farmers from my association have now been able to send their kids to school? Several. And when I talk about benefits, a benefit is not something I receive for myself or something I can put in my pockets. A benefit is something our entire community receives. They did not renovate my house because I did not have this need and I thank God for this. For me, if programs benefit someone in need, it represents a benefit for the entire community, and this includes me. ”
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. ”
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. ”
Scholarships and School Construction
CONACADO supported the construction of a new school and contributed to school repairs in five regional sections of the cooperative. Low-income students received scholarships and school materials to support their studies.
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.
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.