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.
Ramón Figueroa is a CONACADO member. He has seven children, now adults between the ages of 22 and 32. They have all been able to attend and finish school, with one eventually becoming a professor. Ramón did not have the opportunity to complete his education, but is thankful to have provided one for all his children. ”
[To Fair Trade buyers] Please continue to consume this product. It is a healthy and ecological alternative, and helps us small producers. ”
Nector, CONACADO Member Since 1992
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. ”
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.
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.
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.