El Ceibo - Central de Cooperativas El Ceibo Ltda.
In the 1960’s, a Bolivian government-led cooperative, in which many cocoa farmers were forced to join, went bankrupt and, alone, farmers were unfamiliar with the market and could no longer transport their cocoa to major cities. Many deferred to local intermediaries who paid meager but immediate cash for their crop. These conditions led farmers in the early 1970’s, beginning in the Alto Beni region of northeastern Bolivia, started forming small cocoa producer cooperatives. In 1977, 37 of these cooperatives united to form the stronger El Ceibo in 1977.
El Ceibo, committed to protecting their native rainforest, became the first certified organic cocoa cooperative in the world in 1988. Utilizing a tiered cultivation system, El Ceibo works to protect against the degradation of their lands using natural and organic methods. Today, El Ceibo farmers grow an estimated 70 percent of the total organic cocoa cultivated in Bolivia. They are also the first to have processed its own cocoa into powder form.
Thanks to Fair Trade, we are able to sell our cocoa at a better, more stable price. These conditions benefit the member families of El Ceibo. By buying our cacao, you are joining us in solidarity, helping us sustain ourselves and drive a fair price for our product. You are encouraging the construction of a more just and sustainable world for all, producers and consumers alike. ”
Felipe Cancari Capcha, El Ceibo Member
Agroecology and Forestry Program
El Ceibo implemented an agroecology and forestry program which focuses on technical assistance, capacity building and institutional strengthening for its members. El Ceibo also offers incentives for organic production. The co-op has created a cacao tree nursery and initiated research on alternative cultivation methods.
Bonuses for Long-term Employees
El Ceibo awards yearly bonuses for cooperative members 65 years of age and older. In 2006, 97 men and 43 women received a bonus in honor of their long commitment.
Trucks, Crop Diversification and Plant Improvements
El Ceibo members have invested in trucks and improvements to their processing plant. They have also created crop diversification programs to reduce farmers’ dependence on cocoa for export earnings.