Sharing of cocoa cultivation experience

Training and Certified for Success in Indonesia

Haji Saleh owns a UTZ certified cocoa farm in the Polman (Polewali Mandar) district in the West Sulawesi province of Indonesia. For Haji Saleh and many other cocoa farmers in Polman, cocoa cultivation – a family tradition reaching back for five generations – has gradually improved with the support of cocoa sustainability activities.

Most of Indonesia’s cocoa is grown by farmers like him on small plots of land throughout Sulawesi. Indonesia’s million smallholder cocoa farmers—many of whom are without formal education—are also contending with aging cocoa trees and low yields due to pest and diseases. 

Certified cocoa farm in Polman in Indonesia
Haji Saleh runs a certified cocoa farm in Polman (Polewali Mandar) district in West Sulawesi of Indonesia

Barry Callebaut has been working with Haji Saleh and around 15,000 cocoa farmers in West Sulawesi over the years and gaining their trust to strengthen the position of these smallholder cocoa farmers. The company employs local field facilitators and coordinators – many are qualified and graduates in agronomy – who work and mentor these farmers on good agricultural practices and requirements for certified sustainable cocoa.

Sharing of cocoa cultivation experience
Haji Saleh recently shared his experience of cocoa cultivation with (from right), Richard Fahey (VP for Barry Callebaut Asia), Rudyanto Hady (Manager for Barry Callebaut’s Sourcing Operations in Asia), Ralf Thielert (Cocoa Buyer from Nestlé Asia Pacific) and Umar (one of Barry Callebaut’s lead farmer trainers in Polman).

Three years ago, Barry Callebaut with Nestlé took a long-term investment decision and began to work with farmers in Polman on a UTZ certification program. To disseminate good agricultural practices and UTZ certified cocoa farms in Polman, Barry Callebaut has put in place a robust traceability and training infrastructure. This includes dozens of demonstration plots, creating nurseries for cocoa seedlings, as well as farmer field schools attended by thousands of farmers in Polman. To date, more than 7,000 cocoa farmers in Polman are producing UTZ certified cocoa beans to Barry Callebaut.

Through the various sustainability activities, cocoa farmers in Polman are growing better crops, increasing their yields without the need to expand their farms, generating more income and creating better opportunities while safeguarding the environment and securing the earth’s natural resources.

By producing UTZ certified cocoa, these farmers also received premium payments for their certified sustainable cocoa.

Cocoa farmers received their premium payments
Representatives of 7,000 cocoa farmers in Polman received their premium payments in Polman

In January this year, the UTZ premium payments were presented to a group of cocoa farmers at a celebration in Polman witnessed by dignitaries, local officials and representatives from government agencies. The presence of the Regent (mayor) at the event demonstrated the importance on the well-beings of these cocoa farmers in the Polman regency. 

The premium paid amount of IDR 5,000 million (CHF 350,000) was for the delivery of more than 7,200 metric tonnes of UTZ certified cocoa during the 2015 cocoa season. In total, Barry Callebaut has paid out around IDR 12,000 million (CHF 840,000) to the cocoa farmers in the Polman since the certification program started there three years ago.

Recent UTZ premium payment ceremony in Polman
Dignitaries and officials at the recent UTZ premium payment ceremony in Polman

“The opportunities for cocoa farming in Indonesia are massive and the future of the cocoa sector in this country depends on the productivity of the cocoa farms as well as the livelihood of these farmers and their communities,” said Richard Fahey, Vice President for Cocoa Asia Pacific at Barry Callebaut. 

The premium payments for their certified sustainable cocoa provide meaningful incentives for these farmers to improve the quality of their cocoa beans as well as meet the growing demand for sustainably sourced cocoa and chocolate.
Richard Fahey, Vice President for Cocoa Asia Pacific at Barry Callebaut

A big portion of the premium payments are made directly to the certified farmer’s leaders  and partners, and the remainder being invested in projects to boost productivity, farm development and benefit the community. The premiums are an incentive to adopt good agricultural practices and are directly supporting improvements that are making a positive difference to the local communities.

The UTZ certification program managed by Barry Callebaut is audited annually against rigorous environmental, social and economic criteria that protect biodiversity and foster a culture of respect for these cocoa farmers.

Fahey added, “We are very encouraged by the strong interest shown by the cocoa farmers in Polman in our training and certification activities, which underscores our shared commitment to sustainable cocoa production.

Nor Badron

Nor Badron

Leading corporate communications for Asia Pacific. Experience with the crowd: SVP Global Marketing. Director of Tech Practice. Agencies Co-Founder. News Journalist. Away from the crowd: parent/husband, board member of an arts group, and an all-round geek.

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