Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has continued its cocoa sustainability drive in Indonesia through implementing a UTZ scheme for cocoa production.
The company has contributed USD $520,000 to 18,000 cocoa farmers to assist with farming practices in the South East Asian country, as well has having launched a mobile app Katchilè designed to assist with managing data for farmer registration and crop traceability.
It follows a recent initiative from the company to deliver 500,000 seedlings to support Indonesian cocoa communities and help improve working conditions.
As the company explained, since 2013, Umar - a Sulawesi born agronomist - has worked with field facilitators and trainers employed by Barry Callebaut in Indonesia to improve the agricultural practices of cocoa farmers.
Overseeing the UTZ program, he joined the recent premium payments' celebration with farmers and the local Government as well as witnessed the introduction of mobile app Katchilè in Indonesia. This is based on an initial system successfully set up in the Ivory Coast.
Cocoa farming is the principal income for an estimated one 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 (approx. USD $26.6).
Overseeing the UTZ program
Umar works with other field employees in the sustainability team to reach out to cocoa farmer communities in different parts of Indonesia. The field team is young and diverse - many of them are in their 30s, with some coming from families who have cocoa farms or live around the farming communities.
Many of the team members also hold a vocational or university degree; some in agriculture, biological sciences, sociology and even religious studies. More importantly, this enables the team to work together effectively to impart sustainable farming practices to the cocoa farmers, sometimes also helping to replace aging cocoa trees with cocoa seedlings and nurseries programmes.
One of the key tasks for Umar and the field team is to oversee the implementation of the UTZ programme, which supports the growing of sustainable cocoa. Barry Callebaut collaborates with various NGOs and confectionary producers through the UTZ program.
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 initiative for sustainable farming of cocoa in the world.
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