Today we got a first-hand look at fair trade, organic cocoa production at a farmer-owned coop in the Dominican countryside. And we have the photos to prove it!
We definitely got out into the country side today. Sweeping views of mountains, rivers and COCOA TREES filled our eyes. Today was all about fair-trade and organic cocoa and the role Grupo CONACADO in the movement for fairer prices and sustainable farming methods. First, we traveled to the city of San Francisco to view the CONACADO processing factory. Here they process dried cocoa that comes from 10,000 small cocoa farmers that make up the cooperative. The factory was buzzing due to it being harvest season. When we arrived we were treated to an overview of the cooperative that explained its structure and origin. CONACADO was created by a German development agency in 1988 during a large push by the international community to help the Dominican Republic (DR) establish several commodity markets. Out of all the projects that were funded during that push, the only one that still exists is CONACADO.
Today, CONACADO is responsible for producing 25% of the country’s total cocoa exports. Later in the day we also visited a Bloque, where the farmers bring their beans to begin the fermentation process and subsequent drying process. The dried beans are then shipped to the factory in San Francisco. Currently CONACADO has 8 Bloques in the region. Farmers who are CONACADO members are paid by the Bloques above market prices and also share in the profits of CONACADO at the end of the season.
If I continue to write I won't do this story justice so today I will let the pictures speak for me. Here is the cocoa processing process in reverse. Disfruta! Enjoy!
The factory foreman and our group show off a freshly packed chunk of processed beans. This will be shipped to Europe and sweetened. Nice outfits!
The foreman directing traffic as two workers bring in new dried beans from a nearby Bloque.
Oikocredit DR Country Manager, Laura Martinez shares a laugh with the General Manager of CONACADO during lunch which was made for our group by CONACADO.
Here I am listening to three of the leaders of CONACADO speak to the reasons why DR cocoa is the best in the world. I’m convinced!
Pictured here is the group learning about the fermentation process and its importance in creating quality cocoa. In the racks behind us beans were fermenting and the smell was unique to say the least.
A worker scoops and bags the dried beans that will soon be processed at the San Francisco CONACADO factory.
Ripe cocoa pods ready to be harvested.
A proud CONACADO farmer display what the pod looks like inside. Can you believe this is where your chocolate comes from?
I hope that you enjoyed the pictures and it gave you a good sense of the hard work that goes into producing cocoa. We all felt very privileged to see the process from beginning to end. Now it’s time to go back to the US and Canada and search for chocolate from the DR. Only then will this day come full circle. I suggest you do the same!