Trade Aid New Zealand makes our chocolates using cocoa beans grown, harvested, dried and processed into cocoa butter and liquor by the Conacado co-operative in the Dominican Republic, and other ingredients hand grown by Fair Trade farming co-operatives in Paraguay, Sri Lanka and Palestine.
Conacado is an association of 9,000 small-scale farmers in the Dominican Republic, founded in 1988 as a response to low global cocoa prices, and to assist small-scale cocoa farmers to improve their working and living conditions. Since 1997, they have been selling cocoa under Fairtrade certified conditions, which guarantee a fair return for their work.
Conacado calculates that through conventional trade, Dominican Republic farmers receive only 72% of the global market price for cocoa beans - barely enough to feed producers' families during harvests - and for the rest of the year they have to work as labourers. Conacado returns more than 90% of the global market price to its own farmer members through its trade of their cocoa.
The co-operative organises workshops on fermentation techniques, sustainable growing methods, increasing productivity and improving organic methods so that all cocoa can be certified organic.
Founded in 1975, the Manduvira Co-operative has 1500 members, 800 of whom are producing sugar cane - the rest have joined the co-operative to benefit from micro-credit access. The co-operative also markets organic sesame seeds, molasses, cotton and stevia on behalf of some of its members.
Andres Gonzalez Aguilera, the general manager of the Manduvira co-operative, says "Education is very basic out here; lots of kids leave school and don't know what to do next. They could really do with more opportunities to train and to develop job-specific skills. School children here don't typically get much to eat during the day either and they have trouble concentrating. We're looking to address these problems".
PODIE (People's Organisation for Development Import and Export) was established in 1985 in Negombo, and buys directly from producers on Sri Lanka's west coast, exporting their products directly to fair traders around the world. PODIE works with 14 groups involving approximately 1500 people. Three of these groups are women's groups that are mainly involved in producing packing materials. Ten are farming groups that produce a range of spices, and one is the group of employees that carry out the processing on PODIE's premises. By eliminating several links in the traditional trading chain, PODIE is able to both pay farmers more income for their spices (25% to 40% above market rates) and also to fund other services which help to raise the living standards of its members.
PARC (Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees) is a leading Palestinian NGO working in the field of rural development, environment protection, and womens empowerment. They offer technical assistance and extension services throughout Palestine, to contribute to the building of a Palestinian democratic and civil society. They work with a wide range of farmers, including groups that produce olive oil, dates, almonds and couscous for sale to the international fair trade market.
Ahmad Zaghal is a member of the West Jenin Co-operative, which has 100 members throughout 11 villages, growing wheat and olives as well as almonds. Ahmad has 600 almond trees, which take him a month to harvest. His land is 2km away from the separation wall, which was built in such a way that it confiscated 120 hectares of land in his area.
"Since 2004, (the co-op's) production has increased considerably, from around 300kg up to 30 tonnes today. Our membership has grown from 20 to around 100, and we can sell around 70% of our production through PARC. Our main objective when setting up our co-operative was to reclaim land and to improve the socio-economic situation of small local farmers, who all have less than a hectare of land and usually don't have other forms of income."
All photographs courtesy of Trade Aid New Zealand.
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New Internationalist supports Fair Trade producers like The Chetna Organic Cotton Project. Fair Trade promotes a fair wage and fair working conditions, encouraging developing world producers to help themselves.
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