1,500 family farmers
Product: Cocoa beans
COCABO (Cooperativa de Servicios Múltiples de Cacao Bocatereña, R.L.) is the first agricultural co-operative of Panama. It was founded in 1952, with twenty small-scale family farmers. Most family farmers cultivate premium quality cocoa. COCABO’s production system is based on the principles of fortifying family farmers’ organic plantations that are oriented towards providing for their financial and material needs. Socially speaking, they fortify local economies starting with the organic farming family, which is the nucleus of rural development. This stimulates savings, local markets, and provides food staples to premium quality markets where the services we provide are recognized. We have been collaborating with COCABO since 2008.
COCABO’s mission is to promote the social, cultural, and economic development of its members through a diversification of agricultural, commercial, and educational activities.
2,006 family members
Product: Cacao beans
Founded in 2002, The Dominican Organic Growers Foundation (FUNDOPO) is an umbrella organization of small producers. It has 2,000 small and medium producer members growing organic cocoa beans from the rural regions of Villa ltagracia, Yamasa, Puerto Plata, Joba and Blanco Arriba, Nagua, Maimon and San Francisco de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.
The average farm size of FUNDOPO’s farmer-producer is approximately 5 hectares of productive land, previously used for subsistence crops. Traditional cultivation techniques and low levels of mechanization have made the region ideal for total organic transition – resulting in some of the highest-quality cocoa in the world.
Of the Fairtrade premiums the co-op receives each year, 25% of FUNDOPO’s Fair Trade premiums are paid directly to the producers, while the other 75% are used for co-op projects such as training, land purchase, construction of community centers, the repair of roads and houses, and the purchase of cocoa seedlings.
FUNDOPO’s mission objectives are to:
- Strive to improve the quality of their products to obtain best national and international prices.
- Promote the training of groups to strengthen the status of existing and new organizations that join.
- Motivate all small and medium farmers not organized to organize.
- Keep small and medium agroforestry farms members of associations with good management for higher profits.
10,001 family farmers
Product: Cocoa powder and cocoa beans
The National Confederation of Dominican Cacao Producers (CONACADO) is an organization of small-scale cacao producers in the Dominican Republic. CONACADO began as a development project in 1985 during a low in the global cocoa market, to study how cacao fermentation techniques could improve the quality of cacao production in the Dominican Republic. After successfully proving that higher quality, fermented cacao could increase income to small farmers, CONACADO expanded its work to educate cacao farmers and organize them into “bloques” – associations of farmers in a particular geographic area. CONACADO then entered a commercialization phase of the project and focused on finding niche markets for their high quality cacao.
Over the past 20 years, CONACADO has grown from 700 members organized in 3 bloques, to 9,500 members organized in 9 bloques with 142 local community associations throughout the Dominican Republic. Each of the bloques has a similar organizational structure: a General Assembly that meets once a year to approve work plans and decide how Fair Trade premiums will be used; an Assembly of Delegates, with two delegates per association, that meets once a month to report on work plan progress at the community level; a Governing Board that meets once a month to execute the work plan; and an Administrative Committee that meets once a week to follow up on the work plan to make sure it is going as it should.
Prior to the formation of CONACADO, 100% of Dominican cacao production was low quality unfermented beans shipped mainly to the United States. These beans were purchased from the roughly 40,000 cacao farmers by the four major Dominican exporters who held a strong grip over the local market.
One of the boldest moves in CONACADO history was the purchase of their own cocoa powder processing plant in 2008, taking a major part of production into their own hands. Now, rather than selling their beans to be processed by chocolate companies, the farmers are in control of producing their own semi-finished products. Today, CONACADO members produce approximately 25% of the cacao exported from the Dominican Republic and the organization has become a powerful alternative for small-scale producers. The co-operative’s success in quality improvement and marketing means that 70% of their cacao is sold as high quality fermented beans, primarily to European niche markets: Organic, Biodynamic, and Fair Trade.
With over 40% of CONACADO’s cacao sold on the Fair Trade market, each year the co-operative’s Fair Trade premiums are distributed to the bloques for use in community projects, which have included:
- Education: School supplies and scholarships for members’ children; repair & build schools; training for the children of cacao producers in administration so they can eventually take farms over from parents.
- Infrastructure: Road projects to connect isolated producers with their neighbors; wells for potable water in communities; houses for members unable to purchase a home on their own; electricity projects; collection centers in communities to reduce distance and travel time from harvest to fermentation.
- Health: Medicine for health clinics; contact doctors for procedures in clinics; repair clinic buildings.
- Development: “Cacao Route” eco-tourism project to diversify income source for cacao farmers, and share CONACADO model; grants to women’s organizations producing cacao wine, chocolate, and baked goods.
The biggest challenges facing CONACADO today are the development of infrastructure to produce more high quality cacao and generational turnover where youth are not interested in taking over the family farm. Regardless, CONACADO continues to grow, invest in needed infrastructure, and advance its primary goals to maintain leadership, improve the standard of living for small cacao farmers, support sustainable community development, and preserve the environment.
La Siembra has collaborated with CONCADO since 2003.
Improve the income and living conditions of cocoa producers and their families by supporting a sustainable approach to property management, the improvement of product quality, efficient harvest marketing and by strengthening business and organizational practices and community development.