Improving the sustainability of cocoa production in eastern Indonesia

In the 1980s and 90s, smallholder cocoa production expanded rapidly in Sulawesi driven by the initiative of farmers, abundance of suitable land, fertility of forest soils, availability of migrant labour, minimal pest and disease damage, and the development of competitive supply and cocoa buying chains. Cocoa greatly boosted the incomes of over 500,000 smallholders in Sulawesi and other outer regions, and Sulawesi rapidly became the third largest producer of cocoa in the world. The sustainability of this sector is now threatened as land has become scarce, soil fertility has declined, and pest and disease problems have built up to destructive levels, reducing the yield, quality and profitability of cocoa. This project aims to support the Government of Indonesia policy to provide the research and extension needed for the production of high quality cocoa in sustainable smallholder systems.

Achievement of these objectives will break the boom and bust cycle which has characterised cocoa farming globally, and will lead to a more secure future for cocoa farmers and their communities and reduce the pressure for expansion of cocoa farming into forested areas.

1.	Improving the sustainability of cocoa production in eastern Indonesia

The University of Sydney is collaborating on this project with Australian researchers from La Trobe University and Mars Inc., and Indonesian partners from the Assessment Institute for Agricultural Technology in South Sulawesi, the Cocoa Research Group at Hasanuddin University (UNHAS), the Biotechnology Research Institute for Estate Crops (BRIEC), the Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI in East Java) and The University of Papua (UNIPA).

1.	Improving the sustainability of cocoa production in eastern Indonesia

Researchers from the School of Geosciences are examining the agricultural extension systems and policy settings that affect sustainable cocoa production in Indonesia through four interlinked activities:

  1. Participatory farmer trials of Integrated Pest and Disease Management (IPDM) at strategic locations in Sulawesi and West Papua to identify appropriate approaches to agricultural extension. This objective will be integrated with the wider network of similar participatory trials managed by Mars Inc. as part of their technical extension activities.
  2. Establish and testing interactive models for knowledge transfer to extension services and farmers, including the use of web-based and mobile phone technology. The Cocoa Sustainability Partnership will be heavily involved in the development and testing of these systems which will also be used to deliver information on cocoa prices. A Discussion Paper on this activity is available here.
  3. Assessing the role of market-based incentives and private-sector certification schemes, such as UTZ Certified and Rainforest Alliance, in facilitating knowledge transfer and shaping farmer behaviour in eastern Indonesia. A pilot study of sustainability impacts was conducted in 2012. A Discussion Paper on this activity is available here.
  4. Undertaking various policy-relevant studies to inform the design of government programs in Indonesia, such as a review of the nation-wide cocoa revitalisation program (GERNAS), the farm-level impacts of an export tax on raw cocoa beans, and an assessment of cocoa-driven deforestation and land use policy.

University of Sydney Researchers

Funding Body

ACIAR (Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research)

Project Duration

2011-2014