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Chocolate Country
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Chocolate Country
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Seeds of Hope: Colombia

In the backcountry of the Dominican Republic, poor cacao farmers have been fighting a losing battle with the global economy for as long as anyone can remember. But the thriving Loma Guaconejo cooperative has found a way to turn the system on its head.

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Directed by Robin Blotnick.

Learn more about the full-length documentary "Chocolate Country."

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Namshub Films presents Chocolate Country
LUDOVINA SILVERIO SANTOS [Farmer]
Chocolate. Here in the Dominican Republic, there are few who eat chocolate. We drink chocolate. Not the store-bought kind. And at least we're drinking chocolate from quality cacao. Vitamins to drink!
VICTORIANA PAULINO MERCEDES [Farmer]
We felt like the last of the communities, alone and backwards. For us, the marketing cooperative was like electricity entering the community. Like sparks, like striking sparks that motivate a person.
HILARIO ROSARIO QUEZODA [Farmer]
The cooperative was born out of the nature reserve. If we destroy the reserve, it'll become a desert without water, and water is life. We make more profit from organic cacao because it's worth more than the "conventional," as they call it.
LUDOVINA SILVERIO SANTOS
We are separating the black pods, the ones marred by disease, like this here. Who's going to eat this cacao? But a good cacao, it's delicious. The family shares the profits it brings. It's not just for the husband to pocket. No, for everyone: for children, for illnesses, for everything. Now we put it in clean plastic sacks to take it to the fermentation center. If we don't have better quality, we have nothing.
RAMON REYNOSO [Farmer]
The businessman, the middleman pockets all the profits, and each year, his wealth and capital increases, while the farmers get poorer and poorer. We know institutions in the United States. They can buy cacao directly from the farmlands.
EMELERIO JIMENEZ [Farmer]
The middlemen, they'll destroy you.
LUDOVINA SILVERIO SANTOS
But not us, not the cooperative. In the cooperative, we are one united body.
MEN AND WOMEN
A man is only one and life is hard. Walking together, we'll go further.
VICTORIANA PAULINO MERCEDES
We made this project happen. Man, woman, and child. You couldn't say that anyone sat around at home.
CARLITO ALEJO DE CONCEPCION [Farmer]
The man of the farmlands is my brother. The blood of the campo runs in my veins. Without the farmlands, I cannot live.
RAMON REYNOSO
If we have quality, if we have more effort from the men and women in the countryside, it's to improve the lives of every one of them, so they can have more resources for nutrition, health, education.
LUDOVINA SILVERIO SANTOS
I am a buyer of cacao for the cooperative, and I'm in charge of the gender training program.
LOUISA SANTOS SUAREZ [Homemaker]
It's true that I have to work hard, taking care of the kids and the house, but for me to see her running here and there -- never, never in my life, did I think she could have a role like this.
LUDOVINA SILVERIO SANTOS
And I'm not going to let this opportunity pass, because we're moving forward. I'll continue as long as God grants me life and health.
TITLE
The Loma Guaconejo Cooperative has united over 200 cacao farmers.
TITLE
www.chocolatecountryfilm.com