Fair Trade Farmers Threatened in the D.R.

Coffee & Cocoa International will soon be reporting on an important issue for supporters of organic and fair trade chocolate. Small-scale cocoa farmers from the Dominican Republic, a major exporter of cacao, have asked for help from fair trade business Equal Exchange to demand that the Republic’s president repeal a law that will negatively affect small, family-owned cocoa farms.

It appears that the law favors cocoa exporting families that have traditionally lead the cocoa trade in this small island nation. The law is in response to new coops of small farmers emerging that threaten the few wealthy families that have dominated the cocoa export business in this country for years.

The main Cooperative, CONACADO, is an organization comprised of 15,000 small scale Dominican farmers. It is now the world’s largest exporter of certified organic cocoa. The government unfortunately has seen CONACADO as a threat to the wealthy families who had previously profited the most from cocoa exports in the Republic. Thus, they wish to impose a punitive tax on CONACADO and other small cocoa farmers. The new tax could threaten the survival of these coops, who are working hard to support their families and provide a high quality product.

Equal Exchange is encouraging people concerned about this issue to ask President Fernandez to repeal this damaging tax. You can contact the Embassy of the Dominican Republic by telephone (202-332-6280 x2523, Economic Affairs, or x2505, Political Affairs), fax (202-265-8057) or email: embdomrepusa@msn.com.

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