Sustainable farming practices create premiums for low-income cocoa farmers

Published: 17-May-2017

Combining targeted field work and the use of new technology, field facilitators at Barry Callebaut are helping cocoa farmers in Indonesia to improve sustainable farming practices

Cocoa farming is the principal income for an estimated 1 million Indonesian families. 500,000 of are in Sulawesi, producing 60% of all Indonesia's cocoa.

While there is no reliable data on the number of cocoa farmers living under the national poverty line, the rural populations of Indonesia, many of whom are farmers, are relatively poorer than the urban ones.

In 2016, the Indonesian government defined the poverty line at a monthly per capita income of IDR 354,386 (approximately $26.6).

The UTZ programme

Field employees in the sustainability team reach out to cocoa farmer communities in different parts of Indonesia. Many of the team members also hold a vocational or university degree, some in agriculture, biological sciences, sociology and even religious studies.

One of the key tasks for the field team is to oversee the implementation of the UTZ programme, which supports the growing of sustainable cocoa via collaborations with various NGOs and confectionary producers.

The growing of certified cocoa is one of the most compelling tools that chocolate manufacturers use to improve the lives of cocoa farmers. Today, UTZ certified cocoa is produced in 19 countries including Indonesia, and is the largest programme for sustainable farming of cocoa in the world.

Better crops and more income while safeguarding the environment

Through the UTZ programme, field facilitators, who shuttle between different farmer communities, train farmers to grow better crops, generate more income and create better opportunities while safeguarding the environment and securing the earth’s natural resources.

Today, a growing number of certified farmers in Indonesia are better at pruning and sanitation, pest and disease management and fertiliser use. These farmers have improved storage, handling and disposal of agrochemicals, and are equipped with personal protective equipment.

An important contribution of the UTZ programme is that certified cocoa farmers are paid more when they produce a greater number of quality beans. The the higher the yield produced, the more the premiums the farmers receive. Through the UTZ programme, farming practices produce a larger amount of quality beans.

Premium payments of $520,000 for around 18,000 farmers

Barry Callebaut’s collaboration under the UTZ programme in 2015 saw 7,000 farmers from Polman and other cities in West Sulawesi gain more than $350,000 in premiums, in addition to their usual revenue.

In 2016, Barry Callebaut expanded its programme reach to include other cocoa-growing areas in Sulawesi and South Sumatra.

As a result, more farmers are in the programme, with around 18,000 recently receiving premium payments for producing certified sustainable cocoa beans for Barry Callebaut.

A total premium of $520,000 was handed out at the celebratory event attended by these farmers and local government officials. Most of the premiums are paid directly to the certified farmers, while the remainder is invested in projects to boost productivity, develop farms and benefit the farmer community.

Roll-out of cloud-based mobile app, Katchile

Until now, the data from remote smallholder farms has either been completely inaccessible or has required manual collection and collation by the field facilitators. With Katchile, information on agricultural practices, production inputs, finances, yields and GPS data is recorded and analysed centrally.

This mobile app was developed in collaboration with SAP and was first introduced by Barry Callebaut in Cote d’Ivoire.

It is now being rolled out in Indonesia to help improve data collection and farmers’ internal inspection. The 2nd phase of the launch will include the traceability process and provide field facilitators with the ability to tailor agriculture advice down to individual farm management plans.

Enabling traceability from farmer to warehouse

The solution combines desktop and mobile access, allowing usage in the most remote of locations. As some cocoa farms in Indonesia are without stable mobile coverage, the app is designed to allow the field facilitator to collect data offline until it can access a network.

The Katchile app uses a cloud-based system that works independently of internet access. This allows real-time updates from the different farmers that work with Barry Callebaut to reach field facilitators and coordinators.

Information on farmers, their farms and their communities can be recorded digitally at every level of the supply chain. When the implementation is complete, farmer registration, cocoa buying, processing and transportation records will enable the traceability of cocoa beans from the farmer to Barry Callebaut’s warehouse.

Additionally, sustainability-related activity records allow for assessment of individual farmer and community needs and analysis, resulting in higher quality and higher impact support.

Currently, Katchile is being implemented as Pilot Project in Bantaeng and Lampung in Indonesia, where a growing number of farmers are enrolled in the UTZ certified programmes with Barry Callebaut.

Reliable and timely data to better support cocoa farmers

Signs of better data reliability and integrity have started to surface. The app is gradually capturing, consolidating and storing bigger volumes of data, such as relevant farmer information and their current agricultural practices.

Barry Callebaut aims to train more than 50,000 farmers in Indonesia on good agricultural practices by 2020. This is coupled with a global ambition, called Forever Chocolate, which aims to lift more than half a million cocoa farmers out of poverty by 2025.

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