Cocoa from the Dominican Republic
COOPROAGRO is an umbrella organisation uniting 15 cooperatives in the north-east of the country specialising in the cultivation and sale of organic cocoa.
Alongside tourism, the export of sugar, coffee and cocoa is extremely important to the Dominican Republic. COOPROAGRO is an umbrella organisation uniting 15 cooperatives in the north-east of the country specialising in the cultivation and sale of organic cocoa.The organisation has its own team of agricultural engineers who are on hand to advise the members of the cooperatives (including 1800 cocoa farmers) when it comes to complying with international standards in organic cultivation. Furthermore, they inspect each plot of land with respect to compliance with organic farming quality standards and organise workshops, excursions and training courses. In recent years the proportion of farmers producing Fairtrade cocoa for COOPROAGRO has risen annually by 15 per cent, so that an increasing number of members benefit from the advantages of this self-governing community and its joint projects.
Organic farming is better for man and the environment
Organic cultivation uses no chemicals or insecticides. Branches, fruit shells and husks serve as natural fertilizers. Fields are planted with mixed crops, together with banana plants, coconut palms, citrus fruit, sweet potatoes, vegetables and other plants, grown for the farmers’ own consumption. Protection of the environment and biodiversity are of great importance to the organic cocoa farmers.
Higher prices improve quality of life
The additional charge for Fairtrade products is re-invested in the cooperative infrastructure and to improve quality. In this way, roads have been repaired, bridges built, households within the cooperative have been supplied with electricity, the administrative building has been re-built, a canteen provided for the school and a school has been renovated. Schools in the villages have received support so that pupils benefit from improved teaching, leading to higher standards of education. In addition, COOPROAGRO has set up a doctors’ surgery so that members have access to free medical examinations and treatment.
Support for women in the cooperative is also a key objective. As small businesswomen, they produce cocoa spread, cocoa wine and chocolate which they sell at the local market. This represents an additional income which also helps to lift the people out of poverty.