The Dominican Republic is one of the poorest countries in the world and the second-poorest Caribbean country behind Haiti, which it just happens to share an island with. In recent years it has been devastated by earthquakes, hurricanes and tropical storms which hamper any development made by the small nation. Because of that, 42% of the 9.6 million population live below the poverty line and find it difficult to get out of.
Cocoa is one of the largest exports of the Dominican Republic worth $60 million each year. The cocoa is a bean that grows below the tree canopy and often in the shade of other fruit trees and is most commonly used to make chocolate and cocoa butter. There are 40,000 cocoa farmers in the Dominican Republic with average farm sizes of just over 4 hectares.
Fairtrade’s Work with Conacado
The work Fairtrade is doing with Conacado, a union made up of 182 small-scale producer associations with membership numbers of 10,000 farmers, is providing opportunities for cocoa growers and their families to escape poverty. Half of what is produced by the members of this union sell to the Fairtrade market in order to reinvest money back into the business of growing and producing cocoa as well as local communities.
Money has been reinvested into processing and warehouse facilities that enable farmers to produce cocoa beans more efficiently and at a better quality. Extension officers have been employed around the Dominican Republic to improve training of farmers that enables them to increase the yield whilst being environmentally conscious about their work.
Fairtrade also helps provide loans, scholarships and opportunities to not only escape poverty but receive education and grow practical skills that can be used to advance themselves and their community. Access to clean water has increased as well as access to clinics and medical checkups, all of which have significantly improved health on the island.
Importance of Sustainable Development
For those eagle-eyed regular readers, you may be picking up on links to past blogs (as well as one that will be posted on Monday). The work that Fairtrade is doing with farmers in the Dominican Republic is contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
The first three goals aim to eradicate poverty and hunger and improve the health of people all around the world. The fourth is to ensure access to quality education for all children. The reinvestment of resources generated through the Fairtrade programme is helping the UN achieve their sustainable development goals, pulling people out of poverty and making huge differences to some of the poorest countries in the world!