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Co-op Name: Fortaleza del Valle
Number of Producers: 935
Average Farm Size: 2.2 hectares
Source for: 88% Extreme Dark Chocolate Bar, Ecuador Chocolate Bar
Interesting Fact: The cacao variety grown at Fortaleza del Valle is called Nacional Arriba, or “high national.” It is renowned worldwide for its quality and complex flavor profile.
Full Profile: Fortaleza del Valle was founded to improve living conditions for small-scale cacao producers in the Manabí Province of Ecuador. The farmers organized themselves on the heels of a new irrigation project. Of the five agricultural organizations that were founded at the time of the irrigation project, only the cacao co-op, Fortaleza del Valle, remains. The cooperative is made up of five regional groups with over 900 farmer members total. The average size of each farm varies from 2.5 to 12.5 acres, and the farms are diversified to include fruit and timber trees. Fortaleza del Valle works to improve family incomes by improving the production yield and quality of its members’ cacao. The co-op has developed post-harvest infrastructure, such as central fermentation centers, to ensure the best in quality. Fair Trade premiums have been used to invest in pre-harvest financing, pruning and replanting of trees to rehabilitate the farms, education and training, and infrastructure for local organizations..
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