Agriterra strengthens cooperation and marketing in Indonesia

Indonesian growers learn about collective marketing

Last week, Richard van der Maden (Specialist with ZLTO) and Robert van Melle (Sales Manager at Netra Agro) came back from a visit to Indonesia. At the request of Agriterra, they visited API, an agricultural organization in Indonesia with 49 member organizations, with a total of 132,000 members. It was an intensive program, stopping at the islands of Java, Bali and Sulawesi over 10 days and several domestic flights and some long drives.

Richard: "We have visited three member organizations of API that are busy setting up cooperatives to market their products. On Java it was about organic rice, on Bali and Sulawesi about cocoa. Our job was to inform them on how to focus their cooperatives and marketing. "We replaced the word 'cooperative' with 'collective marketing organizations', as cooperatives are commonly associated with past corruption and exploitation.”

Collective investment
The production per grower is very limited: an average rice grower works about 0.2 to 0.5 hectares. For cocoa, the average farm size is also around 0.5 hectares. After West Africa, Southeast Asia is the leading cocoa producer and Indonesia, with a share of 80%, is by far the largest producer in the region. To get back a good chocolate flavour, the beans must be fermented and then dried. Richard: "That's why growers should invest in fermentation boxes, scales and drying capacity.If the cooperative manages to invest in it collectively, many growers are enticed to become a member."

The biggest challenge is changing the mind-set of growers. "Often, they borrow money from the middlemen, leading to growers eventually getting a far lower price than they could receive elsewhere," says Richard.

All in all Indonesian growers are very ambitious and in general appreciate the help of Agriterra. "Especially in Sulawesi there’s a lot of potential,” according to Richard. “Growers there were very enthusiastic and attended our workshop in large numbers.”

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