Co-op Name: Oro Verde
Number of Producers: 1,687
Average Farm Size: 2.5 hectares
Source for: Non-single origin chocolate bars and minis, chocolate chips, dark hot chocolate
Last visit: Chocolate Products Manager Dary Goodrich, USAID Grant Manager Cristina Liberati, and Grant Contractor Julia Baumgartner visited Peru in April 2017. They led a capitalization exchange with co-ops from around Peru in the capital of Lima. Afterwards, they visited the cooperative’s collection centers and several cacao producer farms.
Interesting Fact: In the 1980s, the co-op and surrounding communities in the remote Apurimac Valley were severely impacted by the social and political conflict occurring in Peru’s Ayacucho Province caused by drug trafficking and violence. Within the last several years, CACVRA has recovered to re-establish strong export volumes of coffee, and has also become a significant producer and exporter of organic cacao to international markets. In 2003, it became the first Peruvian cooperative to sell fair trade organic cocoa. The co-op is comprised of 115 different farmer communities. To unite these communities, CACVRA has its own vehicles that it uses to transport its cocoa beans to central fermentation centers.
Full Profile: “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 over 1,600 members. “Farmers realize the benefits of being part of the co-op,” Hildebrando said. “There are advantages that intermediaries can’t provide, especially around technical assistance.”
Additionally, the farmers that belong to the co-op have seen higher prices as a result of working together. “Co-ops have more power to negotiate prices with buyers, which has resulted in higher prices for producers.” There are also programs that benefit the whole community, such as scholarships for children of producers and women’s groups.
Oro Verde is currently working diligently to identify high quality, productive and disease-resistant cacao trees to build up an elite tree program allowing them to provide their farmers with improved varieties for the future. This includes a reforestation project that involves planting two million trees to help the co-op achieve a carbon footprint of zero.