Five Years of Cocoa Life Empowering Cocoa Farmers in Indonesia

Progress Blog
Five Years of Cocoa Life Empowering Cocoa Farmers in Indonesia

Andi Sitti Asmayanti, Head of Cocoa Life South East Asia, Mondelēz International


As we come to the end of 2019, we're proud to be celebrating five years of Cocoa Life operations in Indonesia. Founded in Indonesia in 2013, we've been working hard since 2014 to ensure that cocoa, the essential ingredient of chocolate, is made right - by promoting sustainable cocoa farming businesses, empowering communities to take on their own development and protecting the forests where cocoa grows.

We’re passionate about making cocoa right. In Indonesia, we are present in the regions of West Sumatra, Lampung, South Sulawesi, and Southeast Sulawesi. Here, we work hand in hand with the men and women who grow our cocoa, to tackle the complex challenges they face.

Community of cocoa farmers

Looking back on our achievements

Over the past years, I’ve seen Cocoa Life Indonesia grow and develop, truly shaping the future of cocoa for generations to come. More than 37,000 farmers in over 290 Indonesian communities are participating in the program. Our outcome assessment demonstrates how Cocoa Life Indonesia is creating impact at scale: annual income from cocoa has increased by 37% and farmers have seen an increase of their cocoa yield of up to 10% through participating in the program.

Cocoa farmers are continuously trained on best practices to improve their farm productivity and climate resilience. This includes training on climate-smart farming techniques to protect cocoa from the effects of climate change, effective land-use, innovative crop techniques, and seedlings distribution. We’re proud of our groundbreaking work to build climate-resilient cocoa communities, and as part of the Cocoa & Forests Initiative, a public private partnership to encourage industry progress against deforestation, we published our action plans in this area. This disclosure of Indonesia’s action plans to protect forests was an unusual step as it went over and above what was required, demonstrating our leading position.

We engage with local communities, particularly women, and provide training on financial literacy and management, child protection, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. We've successfully provided financial literacy training programs to more than 28,600 community members, and 15,000 women have participated in Village Saving and Loans Associations. We also roll out youth-oriented programs on cocoa-related enterprises. Since 2014, we have trained 1,776 youths (15-25 years) on cocoa-related enterprises. We focus on youth because they are the future of cocoa farming.

Woman holding cocoa fruits

In Tri Tunggal Mulya village, where most people work as cocoa farmers, we feel incredibly supported by the Cocoa Life program. As we improve our cocoa yield, our income increases: from 600-700 kg/hectare to 1,500 kg/hectare. This is thanks to the implementation of cultivation techniques that we learned through Cocoa Life training

Sutirun, cocoa farmer in the Lampung region

Cocoa Life Indonesia’s unique approach

I’m proud of how far we’ve come over the past five years, and I know that our success in no small part is down to a unique approach: Musrenbang. The concept of Musrenbang derives from two words. It combines musyawarah – “community discussion” – with perencanaan pembangunan – “development planning.” This means that Musrenbang is the process of community discussion about local development needs, which became a core part of our program in Indonesia.

Susilowati, a cocoa household member and active community member, says that the Cocoa Life program has empowered her to participate more in the Musrenbang process – and that participating has been integral to her achievements to date. Since 2017, Susilowati has attended training on VSLAs, gender awareness, child protection, income-generating activities, financial literacy, Community Action Planning and the Musrenbang process. After this, she started contributing and participating more in Musrenbang:

The gender awareness training provided by Cocoa Life has led to more women attending and participating in Musrenbang – and this has empowered us to present our Community Action Plan to the head of our village. We recognize the need for women to voice our opinions and contribute the Musrenbang process

Susilowati, cocoa community member

Sutirun, a cocoa farmer in Indonesia, says that training on Musrenbang helped him use the process to develop a successful additional income source:

The training I completed on Community Action Planning and Musrenbang meant that in July 2018, the government approved my CAP proposal to establish a composting business. Today, besides being a cocoa farmer, I lead this compost business as part of a group of about 25 local farmers.

Sutirun, cocoa farmer in Indonesia

As well as being an additional source of income, the compost business has generated more benefits: Sutirun and his fellow cocoa farmers have assessed their approach to cocoa farming and incorporated good agricultural and environmental practices. They work hard to ensure healthy soil and cocoa trees, and have also been able to reduce their fertilizer spend – which in turn has led to more savings.

Photo of Andi Sitti Asmayanti

Andi Sitti Asmayanti, Head of Cocoa Life South East Asia, at a cocoa farm

What’s next for Cocoa Life Indonesia?

At Cocoa Life Indonesia, we not only focus on empowering our cocoa farmers, but also their families and local communities. We’re proud that women in cocoa communities also feel the benefits of our training program, are able to generate additional income, can improve their financial literacy, and are building confidence to voice their opinions in community meetings. This holistic approach is what enables us to support sustainable cocoa farming. I’m proud of how far we’ve come and look forward to continuing our interventions in the years to come, all of which will help us meet Mondelēz International’s global commitment for all our chocolate brands to source cocoa from Cocoa Life by 2025.