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.
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 the income from Fair Trade we were able to implement a fermentation program to improve the quality of our cocoa and convert our production to certified organic. This improved our position in the Fair Trade market which is very important for the survival of our associates. ”
Isidoro de la Rosa
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. ”
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.
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.
The cooperative provides members with interest-free loans and access to credit.