Innovations and best practices key to helping farmers’ livelihood in Indonesia
Umar, an agronomist born in Sulawesi, has been there from the start. Since 2013, he has worked with hundred other field facilitators and trainers employed by Barry Callebaut in Indonesia to improve the agricultural practices of cocoa farmers. His hope is for more smallholder cocoa farmers in Indonesia to prosper by being more productive.
Cocoa farming is the principal income for an estimated 1 million Indonesian families; 500,000 of are in Sulawesi producing 60% of all Indonesia's cocoa. While there is no reliable data on the number of cocoa farmers living under the national poverty line, the rural populations of Indonesia - many of whom are farmers - are relatively poorer than the urban ones. In 2016, the Indonesian government defined the poverty line at a monthly per capita income of IDR 354,386 (approx. USD $26.6).
One of the key tasks for Umar and the field team is to oversee the implementation of the UTZ program, which supports the growing of sustainable cocoa. Barry Callebaut collaborates with various NGOs and confectionary producers through the UTZ program. The growing of certified cocoa is one of the most compelling tools that chocolate manufacturers use to improve the lives of cocoa farmers. Today, UTZ certified cocoa is produced in 19 countries including Indonesia, and is the largest program for sustainable farming of cocoa in the world.
Premium payments of USD 520,000 for around 18,000 farmers
Barry Callebaut’s collaboration under the UTZ program in 2015 saw 7,000 farmers from Polman and other cities in West Sulawesi gain more than USD 350,000 in premiums, in addition to their usual revenue.
Last year (2016), Barry Callebaut expanded its program reach to include other cocoa-growing areas in Sulawesi and South Sumatra. As a result, more farmers are in the program, with around 18,000 farmers recently receiving their premium payments for producing certified sustainable cocoa beans for Barry Callebaut. A total premium of USD 520,000 was handed out at the celebratory event attended by these farmers and local government officials. Most of the premiums are paid directly to the certified farmers, while the remainder is invested in projects to boost productivity, develop farms, and benefit the farmer community.
In order to achieve greater success with our sustainability efforts, we need to constantly improve our growing techniques and feedback processes, using better tools to meet the farmers’ needs.
Until now, the data from remote smallholder farms has either been completely inaccessible or has required manual collection and collation by the field facilitators. Now with Katchilè, information including agricultural practices, production inputs, finances, yields and GPS data, is recorded and analyzed centrally.
Reliable and timely data to better support the cocoa farmers
One month into going live, Umar notes that the field staff are still familiarizing themselves to using the new system of entering data. Yet, signs of better data reliability and integrity have started to surface. The app is also gradually capturing, consolidating and storing bigger volumes of data like relevant farmer information and their current agricultural practices. Working with more reliable and timely data is an important step forward for field facilitators to provide better support to the cocoa farmers.
Umar hopes that with the timely and relevant use of technology, cocoa farmers in Indonesia will be able to increase the productivity and value of their crops, hence improving their livelihoods. His ambitions strike a common chord with that of Barry Callebaut’s - Barry Callebaut aims to train more than 50,000 farmers in Indonesia on good agricultural practices by 2020. This is coupled with a global ambition called Forever Chocolate, which targets to lift more than half a million cocoa farmers out of poverty by 2025. With these efforts, we and Indonesian cocoa farmers alike can look forward to Barry Callebaut’s continued sustainability efforts in the nation.