Easter Chocolates for most Canadians immediately summon child hood visions of Chocolate Easter Bunnies, Decorated Eggs and springs first ride on your bicycle.
Its hard to imagine the connection to kids half a world away who experience a relative amount of happiness based on our chocolate purchasing decisions. And yet over the last 20 years in the Dominican Republic that has become the growing trend.
Until 1985, all cocoa production of the 40,000 farmers in the Dominican was low quality unfermented beans sold to the United States and tightly controlled by four major distributors. At that point 700 farming members formed the National Confederation of Dominican Cocoa Producers (CONACADO) and with some start up funding began to refine cocoa in the Dominican Republic for export. Today their membership has grown to 10,000 farming member and nearly half of their production is to Fairtrade markets. In a country where 40 % population lives below poverty line that is making a big impact for these farming members.
This additional income has been reinvested back into the farming communities to build or repair existing schools, build IT centers that focuses on providing help to children with schoolwork and scholarships to the poorest families.
For example, Mariano Manzuela is a 64 year old cocoa farmer. His wife and 11 children are one of the poorest farmers in their community. Fairtrade projects have managed to extend scholarships to their children and pay for school expenses and exam fees as well as building a new classroom at the school where their youngest son attends.
So with every Fairtrade Easter Chocolate purchase not only does it provide for lasting memories for children here in Canada but also hope and opportunities for children in the Dominican Republic.