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Sustainable cocoa production in agroforestry systems linked to low carbon emission economic development

Hosted by GIZ Forests and Climate Change Programme (FORCLIME)


Indonesia is among the largest cocoa producers in the world, with a cocoa seed production of 845,000 tons in 2010, and the Government of Indonesia wants Indonesia to become one of the world’s leading cocoa producers. The growth of Indonesia’s cocoa production over the past three decades has been remarkable, with an annual average increase of over 20%. Most of this has come from smallholder producers, who accounted for 82% of total cocoa production in 2010, compared to just 10% in 1980. However, this increase in production has been synonymous with the conversion of forests into agricultural areas, accompanied by high inputs of mineral fertilizers and pesticides. If such conventional methods for increasing production continue to be used, the costs to the environment will be extremely high.

Despite the government’s ambitious goals, the forecast for Indonesia’s cocoa production in the 2012/2013 season was just 430,000 tons. Poor knowledge of agronomic practices, aging trees and pests are common problems among the country’s vast network of smallholders. Government programs to increase production are facing several challenges, and annual export increases appear to stagnate.

Indonesian cocoa beans have a low price and are known for their poor quality because they are small, leave a lot of waste behind and are often not fermented (a precondition to produce cocoa powder). Resource poor farmers would rather get immediate cash for their crop than ferment their beans and then sell them.

To address the situation, transnational companies such as Nestlé, Mars, Barey Callebaut and others are participating in national programs to produce highly productive cocoa clones and to improve sustainability by promoting UTZ and Rainforest Alliance certification for small-scale cocoa farmers.

FORCLIME’s role in agroforestry and sustainable cocoa production

FORCLIME’s strategy is to increase rural income and nature conservation and rehabilitation through the dissemination of successional agroforestry systems to restore degraded land and enhance carbon storage. At the same time this approach will result in lower emissions through less use of fertilizer and pesticides, which cause high emissions during their production. The certification of sustainable smallholder cocoa production in the three districts of Kapuas Hulu, Malinau, and Berau in Kalimantan is planned.

Although cocoa agroforests cannot achieve the biodiversity level of primary forests, the total biodiversity in cocoa agroforests is still higher than in other agricultural landscapes and hence maintains the adaptability of ecosystems to climate change. Producing cocoa sustainably, which takes into account environmental aspects (biodiversity and conservation), economical aspects (income generation, value chain development, market access) and social aspects (traditional production, labor organization) is especially important as the three districts are now conservation districts.

The cocoa producing and marketing companies aim to achieve child-labor free and fully sustainable cocoa production by 2020. Moreover, global market trends also indicate an increasing demand for sustainably produced cocoa.

While the quality and productivity of smallholder cocoa production in FORCLIME’s pilot districts are rather low, annual buying potential (of at least 1,000 tons) is relatively high.

In order to address global, national and local requirements, FORCLIME promotes successional agroforestry production systems by providing support to, for instance, organizations building together with farmers’ groups or village schools, or the enhancement of the cocoa value chain (based on traceability of products) through establishing relationships to a more complex network of dealers in the form of public private partnerships.

FORCLIME’s strategy links agroforestry to a more low-carbon emission economic development and matches well with the interests of the cocoa industry and global market trends. These shared interests have potential to produce successful synergies between the program, smallholders in Kalimantan and the cocoa industry.

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