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Premium Village Cacao
A worker dries cacao beans in Palu, Central Sulawesi, on Thursday (25/7). ANTARA/Basri Marzuki
Wednesday, 31 January, 2018 | 15:26 WIB
Premium Village Cacao

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta,

Producing World-Class Cacao Beans 

Famers in the Polewali Mandar Regency, West Sulawesi, are producing internationally certified fermented cacao beans.

Halifuddin never used to give much thought to how his cacao beans were processed. Two days after harvest at the beginning and middle of the year, he would sell hundreds of kilograms of cacao beans harvested from his 1.5 hectares of land to middlemen. 

"The price of cacao would stay the same because it was the middlemen who fixed it," said the 40-year-old.

Halifuddin was not the only farmer in the Landi Kanusuang village, West Sulawesi, who would sell their cacao to middlemen. Over 56,000 cacao farmers in the Polewali Mandar Regency were doing the same. Halifuddin, who has been a farmer since his teenage years, believes that working with middlemen has put farmers at a disadvantage. They could not benefit from price increases in the international market and would be paid low prices for their yields. But some of these farmers continued to partner with middlemen because they had to pay debts on their land. 

This is why he became excited when in 2005, the Wahana Sukses Pertanian Terpandang (Wasiat), an NGO, began urging farmers to free themselves from middlemen. The NGO worked to improve the farmers’ planting technique, soil conditions and quality of production, and set up a marketing network with downstream cacao buyers. "Since partnering with Wasiat, farmers’ lives, myself included, began to improve," said Halifuddin. 

Wasiat has done more than mentor farmers on technical aspects. Along with Rikolto, an international agency working to develop sustainable farming, Wasiat also guided the farmers in forming Amanah, an entrepreneurial cooperative (KSU), to help farmers learn organization, marketing and market negotiations. 

"This has enabled them to obtain the best selling price," said Hassani, a Wasiat activist and chair of the Amanah KSU.

Halifuddin has also felt the benefits of working with Amanah KSU over the past decade. Amanah’s selling prices are higher compared to the middlemen’s prices in the Mappili subdistrict, as the cooperative’s prices change every day to adapt to the international market. 

In the past, Halifuddin would only receive Rp58 million for each harvest of two tons, but today he gets to take home around Rp68 million. 

Additionally, if Halifuddin and other farmers wish to, they can store their beans in the cooperative’s warehouse and sell them at a later date, to wait for better prices. 

For two years, the cooperative has been supplying to a multinational cacao company, Mars Symbiocience Indonesia. Farmers in the Amanah co-op supply 300-500 tons of fermented cacao beans and 1,000 tons of unfermented beans annually to the company’s office in Makassar, South Sulawesi. 

The partnership began after Rikolto connected Mars to Wasiat and cacao farmers in seven districts in Polewali Mandar, namely the districts of Mapili, Luyo, Tutar, Wonomulyo, Anreapi, Bulo and Tapango. "We act as a liaison while also working to improve the quality of the cacao produced by the farmers," said Peni Agustijanto, manager of Rikolto’s cacao division. 

Rikolto and Wasiat began reaching out to cacao farmers in Polewali Mandar in 2010. Not many farmers joined at first, said Peni. After a few months, Rikolto saw that the model they were implementing was not very effective and felt the need for a cooperative that would help farmers communicate with each other as well as market players. 

Read more inspiring Outreach stories in Tempo English Weekly Magazine



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