Certification is opening up new markets for cocoa farmers in Indonesia. We spoke to Agung Widi, of Kerta Semaya Samaniya cocoa cooperative in Jembrana, about the challenges and successes of certification.
Why did you choose to join UTZ?
“We looked at other programs, but for us UTZ was the most complete. We don’t just learn agricultural practices, but also environmental and social issues such as child labor and wages – issues at community level. It starts in the field, but goes all the way to finding a good market.”
What challenges have you faced?
“It’s difficult to change the mindset of farmers. It’s not just about using or not using a certain pesticide.
It’s about training, and how to build a spirit of togetherness, to support the bargaining position of smallholders for quality, quantity, price and continuity. We work with 500+ farmers and it takes time. You need energy for that!
Also, the younger generation don’t want to become farmers. They don’t see a future. But we have an opportunity through the sector partnership program program to encourage them by selecting young farmers to act as representatives.”
Fermentation wasn’t part of traditional farming, but is mandatory under UTZ certification. How has this worked for the cooperative?
“We are a success story! Fermentation has helped us get to where we are today, going from no international buyers to seven. Now, I want to share our experience to make Jembrana an inspiration for other cocoa farmers, talking with district, provincial and national government to increase fermentation in cocoa across Indonesia. I really believe this is the way forward – fermentation creates a better life for farmers currently in a rat race to produce mass quantities, but with cheap labor and price instability.”
What other results has certification brought?
It’s brought an increase in productivity.
Before 2011, productivity per hectare per year was no more than 500kg dry beans. Now, after almost six years, one family can produce more than 1-1.2 tons per hectare per year.
Through rigorously following the UTZ Code of Conduct we have also improved our consistency, which led to the ICCRI (Indonesia Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute) choosing our cocoa to represent Indonesia in the global Cocoa Excellence Competition. There we were announced as one of the top 50 best cocoa beans in the world! We were invited to the Salon du Chocolat event in Paris to receive our award, something we are very proud of.”
What else do you want to achieve?
“We’d like to increase capacity building in the cooperative, and get more buyers to support sustainability issues. We need to increase the capacity of the community as well – that is part of the sustainability process, you cannot separate the two.”
Anything else you would like to add?
“We cannot leave a famer to walk alone. We need support from other stakeholders. Before joining UTZ we already worked with lobby and advocacy, but now we can go further to parliament and local government, and even work collaboratively with other cocoa actors through the national platform. From togetherness we can find a good market, we can increase the bargaining position of the farmer.
Sustainability for the future will help us keep cocoa in Jembrana. We love cocoa!
Did you enjoy Widi’s story? Read more about impact in origin in our Voices form the Field series