The Cooperativa de Productores Agropecuarios Martin Reyes Inc., COOPROAGRO, has more than 35 years of experience as a cooperative, and it serves an a commercial “umbrella” for 3,124 small and medium-sized Fairtrade cocoa producers. All these are spread across 24 districts throughout the northeast region of the Dominican Republic.
Since the beginning, the cooperative has been built on a strong foundation: “its social commitment to its members and their communities.” More specifically, this foundation is based on hard work, training and education, along with efficient sales strategies and environmental conservation.
Over the years, COOPROAGRO has reaped many fruits from its work, including financial achievements, however, what they are most proud of, are their social development projects. In this case, the organization demonstrates the height of its work in the community, a pedestrian bridge. This bridge runs over the Nagua River, specifically benefitting 800 people from the Chinguelo community. The project required an $82,000 (USD) investment, which was covered with the Fairtrade Premium. There were also other contributions from the community, specifically the non-specialized workforce.
In the end, the bridge project has brought life back to the community. The bridge not only serves as a means of transportation, but it also facilitates access to public healthcare, education and other basic needs. Thanks to Fairtrade, the bridge is uniting families and the community.
“This investment has truly paid off; because when the river was deep, we couldn’t take sick people to the hospital, children missed school, and at times, we even went hungry… because we could not get into town to buy food. People began to move away from the community, abandoning their properties and neglecting [cocoa] production. Now, some of them are returning; because with the bridge, we are bringing life back to the community.”
Pedro Aracena Chalas
Community resident of Chinguelo