Updated on November 12, 2019
“Before my farm got certified, I went perhaps once a week to my farm, without motivation. Thanks to the UTZ program I am on my farm every day with a lot of spirit.”
UTZ certified farmer, Indonesia.
An evaluation of UTZ certified cocoa production in Indonesia reveals that certification has brought about a variety of positive changes for farmers. In less than four years, concrete and significant improvements such as better farming practices, safer working conditions and more environmentally friendly practices are helping to lead to a more sustainable sector.
Building on expertise gained in West Africa, the UTZ cocoa certification scheme was set up in Indonesia in 2012. Cocoa is Indonesia’s fourth largest crop behind palm oil, coconut and rubber, but production has been declining over the past few years due to a combination of ageing trees, pests, diseases and drought.
The UTZ program aims to reinvigorate the sector, helping to re-establish cocoa as a more sustainable, income-generating activity for today’s farmers and future generations. Already more than 800,000 cocoa farmers world-wide (2018) have joined, with hundreds more receiving training to prepare for future certification.
Yields have doubled
The evaluation showed that the training provided as part of UTZ certification was highly rated by almost all farmers, with 94% saying it was an important benefit. Certified farmers now have more awareness of sustainable farming practices, which leads them to adopt practices such as pruning and sanitation, pest and disease management, and fertilizer use.
94% of farmers say training was an important benefit
This has a variety of positive knock-on effects. Farmers have been able to increase their productivity dramatically, with their average yield now more than double that of non-certified farmers. Certified plots are 19% bigger than non-certified plots, with almost two-thirds in good condition and more than 80% of trees looking healthy (as a reference, just 29% of non-certified plots were judged to be in good condition).
A massive 100% of certified farmers have improved the storage, handling and disposal of agrochemicals compared to non-certified farmers. There was also increased awareness of the requirements around the use of agrochemicals and personal protective equipment among certified farmers.
100% of certified farmers have improved the storage, handling and disposal of agrochemicals
What’s more, the resulting increase in both quality and quantity of crops sees certified farmers receive a higher price than non-certified farmers, which means they have more to re-invest back into their business, or to educate their children, or to support family members.
Direct trade a key benefit
Direct trade relations – exporters buying directly from farmers – were one of the key benefits felt by certified farmers in this study. Indeed, these relationships were seen as stable and more sustainable, and many farmers reported that they valued this, alongside training, as more important than any premium they received.
Furthermore, an intangible yet valuable benefit of the program is the boost of farmers’ self-esteem through good performance. This ‘virtuous circle’ means certified farmers have much higher motivation to produce cocoa than non-certified farmers, a vital element of any system that will help to create a sustainable sector for the future.
When this much can be achieved in such a short space of time, it’s easy to see that big change can happen. That’s why the UTZ program is also part of the Indonesian Cocoa Sustainability Partnership platform, which is actively working to improve the sector as part of its 2020 roadmap.
Evaluation studies such as this are vital – not just to see what’s working and what’s not, but to see how the program makes a difference to the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmers and their families on the ground. They are UTZ certified. Are you?