“Like Equal Exchange, we want to improve the lives of our small farmer members,” said Hildebrando Cárdenas Salazar, general manager of Oro Verde. The co-op was founded in 1999 with 56 members, and now there are 1,200 members.
Initially funded by the United Nation's program to promote cacao cultivation as an alternative to growing coca leaves, ACOPAGRO is now an established exporter of quality cacao. The co-op, based in the San Martin region, has grown from 27 members in 1997 to more than 2,100 members today and is now the largest cacao exporter in Peru. In July 2012, ACOPAGRO won first place in the national quality competition, Concurso Nacional de Cacao, in Lima. The co-op has diversified into other products and services like dried coconut, a reforestation and carbon capture program and credit service for members.
With Fair Trade premiums, ACOPAGRO has invested in a new office and warehouse facility, equipment and quality trainings for members, vehicles for staff, and social programs such as basic food production and access to medical services like dental and eye care.
The average farm size is 3 – 10 hectares, and many also grow fruit and timber trees.