External Advisors Witness Cocoa Life’s Progress in Indonesia Firsthand

Progress Blog
External Advisors Witness Cocoa Life’s Progress in Indonesia Firsthand

By Andi Sitti Asmayanti, Director of Cocoa Life for Southeast Asia, Mondelēz International - 12/07/17

Cocoa Life’s external advisors recently made their first visit to Indonesia, and the timing could not have been better, as it followed the release of the Indonesia Outcome Assessment. We were looking forward to sharing the progress we’ve made here.

Our external advisors lend their expertise and perspective to help shape the Cocoa Life program. Four made the trip: Andrew Bovarnick, the global head of the Green Commodities Programme for the United Nations Development Programme; Aidan McQuade, the director of Anti-Slavery International; David McLaughlin, Managing Director and Vice President: Agriculture, World Wildlife Fund and Jane Nyambura, the regional manager of Africa for the Ethical Tea Partnership.

The external advisors met with farmers, suppliers, youth, and women in the cocoa communities, as well as governmental stakeholders and NGOs. In the province of Lampung, they toured the demo farm of Mr. Alpian. Two years ago, his plot was plagued by pests and plant diseases. But after he worked with Cocoa Life to learn Good Agriculture Practices such as pruning, sanitation, and frequent harvesting, his yields rose fivefold, from 600 to 3100 kilograms per hectare. This program is not only about the number of farmers, it is about increasing each farmer’s productivity.

In the province of Southeast Sulawesi, the external advisors saw how a Community Action Plan resulted in local government funding for an early education program, road improvements to ease access to cocoa farms, and a community-based health center that provides regular screenings. Across our program, we work very closely with the village chiefs and the Community Action Planning process is integrated in the local community planning process. We see the results of this in the outcome assessment; within a year, 26% of all projects from the Community Action Plans were funded, almost all by the local government.

"One of the things that seems to be working well in Indonesia, is the community approach of Cocoa Life towards the problem and challenges. You particularly see that when you talk to women’s groups or when you talk to youth groups, and how they have been encouraged to find their voices, and to express clearly and publicly their aspiration and hopes within the communities, and they have been empowered to put some of those hopes into action."

Aidan McQuade, Cocoa Life advisor and human rights expert

Aidan McQuade

We also discussed ways to improve and expand the program. Child labor is not an issue in Indonesia (98% of children go to school here, as reported in Embode’s situation assessment), but we will implement Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation Systems over the next year.

Some of our challenges going forward include advancing women’s empowerment and finding ways to get the youth involved. We visited in Sumatra in the area of Lampung a demo plot owned by the local youth. They are trained in Good Agriculture Practices by our partner Olam and received the land from the local Chief. The proceeds of the farm as well as them being able to offer their services to other farmers are great ways of how the youth can earn a living from cocoa, but we need to do much more to inspire the youth for a career in farming. Also, cocoa is not the main commodity in Indonesia so we have to work to keep the government focused on cocoa, and to make cocoa the best option for farmers here. Another topic we addressed is our community exit strategy; our aim is to create empowered thriving communities who can sustain themselves, which means at some point we would move on to support other communities. We discussed what this means and what strategies we should develop for this.

After lending their expertise during our four years in Indonesia, it was invaluable having the external advisors on the ground. They were able to see firsthand the impact the program has on communities and hear directly from farmers. Together, we are working to support empowered cocoa communities.