Dominican Republic

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. Read more >


1,500 family farmers
Product: Cocoa beans

The Organic Growers Dominican Foundation (FUNDOPO) formed on February 17, 2007 as an umbrella organization comprised of small and medium producers of organic cocoa from several regions in the Dominican Republic.    In the regions where FUNDOPO operates, poverty is wide-spread and communities rely on cocoa production as their main source of income. Families supplement their livelihoods with other crops for consumption and local market sales.

Through the production units, FUNDOPO unites farmers who live and grow cocoa in distant and mountainous regions to collectively produce high-quality cocoa and obtain better market prices.  Through cocoa agro-forestry and conservation, the farmers of FUNDOPO play a key role in protecting the country’s water resources. A large part of the water supply for Santo Domingo, the country’s capital, originates from the regions in which FUNDOPO’s cocoa farmers live.

FUNDOPO became Fair Trade Certified™ in 2005. They are governed by a representative body – called the General Assembly – which makes all cooperative decisions, including the uses of the fair trade premium.  Some of the programs funded included: purchasing better tools and facilities to improve farmer production capacity (such as purchse of tarpaulins and boilers to dry and ferment the cocoa beans in preparation for sales); building a regional collection center in San Francisco de Macoris and a meeting center at the La Joya communities; purchase of a power generator, and office equipment for some of the regional units; producer training and development.

One of FUNDOPO’s primary goals is to increase the production quality and quantity of its members. To achieve this, they have invested in training and technical assistance programs for members and hired an agronomist to train farmers in the best practices to increase production levels and produce better quality beans.