Farmer organization as the backbone of agro-sustainability

PISAgro News, May 2017, Issue No 15, pp. 2-4

By Fitrian ArdiansyahIndonesia country director of IDH-Sustainable Trade Initiative

Original link:’16.pdf

Nestle Farmers.jpg
IDH supported Nestle’s coffee farmers through Nescafe Better Farming Practices Program

Given the fact that most of the 40 million workers in the agriculture sector are small farmers, and they are facing with recurrent challenges of low levels of productivity and profitability due to a lack of access to market and financing, the notion of strengthening farmer organizations has become imperative.

Reaching sustainable agriculture goals, comprising improved productivity, protection of the surrounding ecosystems and ensured welfare of farmers, is challenging unless farmers’ capacity and knowledge on good agricultural practices are improved. Such improvement is difficult to be facilitated without strong farmer organizations.

IDH-Sustainable Trade Initiative, in collaboration with partners, believe that innovations in supply chain sustainability require professional farming practices. Our approaches and pilots have shown that such farming practices can only be applied if strong farmer organizations are at the heart of our sustainable business model and values.

In our coffee program, with PT Asal Jaya(1) in Malang for example, efforts to strengthen farmer organizations is considered as a key intervention. These efforts focus on providing institutional support that will lead to the development of Sustainable Agriculture Business Cluster (SABC).

When different farmer organizations are aggregated further into an SABC, they will be perceived to be having an economic of scale. Such scale would help them access finance from financial institutions (FIs). They can also easily sell coffee bean in a bulk way with a relatively better price and as trade-off, receive good agriculture practices (GAPs) and good management practices (GMPs) including accounting system literacy from the company and organizations like IDH.

This type of aggregated farmer organizations would provide a greater opportunity for farmers to get support from off-takers or other organizations to secure legal entity over their lands. Off-takers would see an increased credibility of such organizations and reduced risks in investing in these farmers. As many have known, without legal entity, farmers would have difficulty in getting a deal or financial support from banks.

The presence of good farmer organizations with the support of off-takers and other organizations can help farmers gradually demonstrate that they can improve or have improved their practices shown by results over a particular period. In a good farmer organization, documentation of farming process and accounting system is usually the norm.

Strengthening farmer organizations, nevertheless, is not an easy task. Often farmers are unwilling to be grouped in an organization such as a cooperative. Innovation or slightly different approach is sometime required.

As an example, in our palm oil program in North Sumatra, working with a state-owned company(2), a different model for farmer organizations has been introduced to support farmers to achieve Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certification. The difference is that the organizations still consist of farmer groups (kelompok petani) but managed by traders.

This slightly different approach is chosen due to the fact that traders have many farmers under their wings (approximately several hundreds) and this has been perceived as a way to scale up the coverage of farmers in a sustainable supply chain of palm oil. In addition, with traders’ involvement and their staff in supporting farmers, they can also be seen as some forms of extension services, not only connecting farmers to the supply chain but also providing concrete support in forms of GAPs.

A similar approach has been done with Asian Agri(3) in Jambi, in which farmer organizations are supported through traders. In this case, traders are trained so that they can further help and reach out farmers with GAPs and GMPs. With the increased capacity of traders, they also are gradually equipped with good capacity in taking bigger responsibility in this sustainable supply chain.

A traditional type of farmer organizations such as cooperatives (e.g. Koperasi Unit Desa or KUD), nevertheless, is still crucial since KUD or a similar organization exist in almost every kabupaten (district) in Indonesia. For this reason, IDH also works with different corporate partners to show that strengthening KUD can bring about better benefit for farmers. The recent initiative in South Sumatra with IndoAgri London Sumatra shows that KUD can also be a good platform for palm oil farmers to achieve RSPO certification.

Farmer organizations and aggregation or clustering, to a large extent, can help farmers to increase their economic scale. Such “clustering”, however, needs to be done with tailor-made services, so that choices are also created for farmers since different types of farmers may require a different type of approaches and clusters.

One key lesson-learned in establishing such cluster is, at least, a principle of open and transparent farmer organizations should be upheld. This is critical so small farmers will see such organizations as a fair and just platform and can support their agenda of improved productivity and sustainability – not only the agenda of off-takers or traders.

The presence of strong and credible farmer organizations will not only provide a vehicle for improved productivity for farmers in a relatively scalable level, but also can be used to support farmers in promoting the agenda of environmental protection in a significant way.

Encroachment and conversion of forests and peat – and cultivating using fires – have been perceived as challenging issues when it comes to small farmers and deforestation and environmental protection. A good farmer organization can, to some extent, be an umbrella that develop a treaty or agreement for conservation of the remaining or surrounding forest and peat, equipped further with a good plan, investment and monitoring system.

Examples of fire-free villages – a joint-work between companies and villages to address forest and land fires across Indonesia – can be used to show that with an organization of villagers or farmers, actions to address (prevent or mitigate) fires are much easier to apply. Without clear farmer or villager organizations, a company, donor agency or government would have difficulty in pushing the agenda of fire prevention or other environmental protection.

In brief, the presence of strong, credible and accountable farmer organizations has become a necessity in sustainable agriculture. Such organizations would help farmers to develop a good business case at farmer level, improved provision of service delivery or extension services, and increase access to adequate and sufficient finance.

The immediate next step, as often the case, is to replicate, magnify and scale up models of good farmer organizations. PISAgro and its members, in this case, have the opportunity to transform such models into larger applicable platforms across Indonesia and in variety of commodities.


  1. The IDH’s work with PT Asal Jaya is entitled The Ecosystem Chain Scale in a Sustainable Coffee Smallholder Business in East Java. The period of work is between January 2016 to December 2020, targeting 15,000 farmers. Currently, around 3,400 farmers are part of the program. The focus of the program is to support farmer organizations, GAP and GMP practices, and farmers driven research.
  2. The work is with PTPN 3 with approximately 600 farmers to be supported but 59 will be certified soon under RSPO.
  3. The initial target of the work with Asian Agri is to support 10,000 farmers and now 6,000 farmers (around 30,000 ha) are part of the program. The program focuses interventions that can be categorized as “beyond certification” approach (not only aiming to achieve certification).

Developing sustainable cocoa

By Fitrian Ardiansyah, COKELAT magazine, 12th Edition, January – May 2016, pp. 44-46. For the complete pdf version of the magazine (4MB), please click: post-LKipG-majalah-cokelat-2016-08-05-10-54-45-ID


IN recent years, the cocoa sector in the world and also in Indonesia, has been working to be transformed into a more sustainable, environmental, and socially friendly while continuing to improve productivity. The biggest challenge in building a more sustainable cocoa sector is developing business models at the farmer level, which does not only focus on improving productivity, but also encourage an entrepreneurial farmer and cooperative management as well include elements of environmental protection.

With cocoa production level at more less 350,000 tons per year (2014/2015), Indonesia currently ranks third in the world. Cocoa is one of the most important export commodity for Indonesia. Commodities are also important to the rural communities because the majority of the production of cocoa is produced by small-scale farmers. Currently, Indonesia has at least 1.5 million hectares of cocoa plantation, especially in Sulawesi, North Sumatra, West Java, Papua, and East Kalimantan. With so many cocoa production produced by small-scale farmers, cocoa sustainability aspect can not be achieved without the involvement of them.

In order to ensure success in establishing a sustainable cocoa sector, there should be additional efforts to encourage the option in developing sustainable livelihood for the communities where the cocoa farmers live, and to help farmers in increasing entrepreneurial capacity. Without the innovations that help the capacity of farmers (especially in the context of increased productivity, better land management, and funding for farmers organizations or cooperatives) it will be difficult to ensure the sustainability of the cocoa sector.

In addition, due to the situation of export markets today which has been increasingly asking for a commodity to be produced with more attention to environmental and social protection, the development of sustainable cocoa in Indonesia should include aspects of local community development, women empowerment, poverty and malnutrition alleviation, and land management that does not cause fires, environmental degradation, and deforestation. In the realization of a sustainable cocoa sector, the development of a model or proof-of-concepts initiated jointly by industries, nonprofit organizations, farmers, and government institutions becomes important. Due to the model is expected to be replicated or developed on a broader scale to ensure coverage for the cocoa sector sustainable concept adopted by many parties.

Innovations in the land productivity improvement and farmers financing

Compared to other commodities, one of the challenges to achieve sustainable cocoa sector is low productivity of the cocoa crops, particularly production of farmers with unit of per hectare. Due to this, a large number of cocoa farmers trapped in a cycle of poverty that causes them to be significantly indebted continuous and heavily. Low input which then produces a low output (quantity and quality), chronically detain the growth of cocoa commodity. The scheme to help farmers in the provision of better inputs, still do not have the same standards.

Meanwhile, funding for the farmers in managing land better is often not available on the grounds because the bank institutions are still assuming that it is a high risk to assist farmers in managing their cocoa farming, so farmers still depend on informal donors with only provide limited funds and in a short time, and of course, with high interest rates. This condition is exacerbated later by the aging plants, and unclear form of funding scheme for rejuvenation and rehabilitation.

Even so, there are actually several initiatives that have been developed in several places to overcome the cycle of low input-low output. For example, the support of a company that acts as a partner for farmers who could then guarantee a low price in the purchase of fertilizers that help farmers to ensure the availability input of fertilization. The development of certification and traceability (tracking in the supply chain) also helps to strengthen the relationship between companies/buyers and farmers, and it can help in identifying the components at the farm level that needs to be strengthened, including in terms of agricultural input. Funding schemes and risk sharing in the provision of fertilizers and truck rental, can also be supported as an innovation that will help input certainty. In addition, the electronic banking systems (mobile banking) also continues to conceive as an innovation that will put farmers as actors who can be trusted to get help in the supply of inputs.

In reaching a broader scale of the innovations that have been made, the cooperation between the various stakeholders (local authorities, local banks, and international parties) becomes important. This cooperation is required mainly to generate various funding schemes with medium or long term that encourage the availability of funding support in the provision of inputs to farmers, land ownership or land rental, and financing of other operations. In succeeding this approach, the formation and the effective organization of farmers and cooperatives is crucial. In the absence of effective former organizations or cooperatives, it will be difficult for banks to approve funding due to a risk to the financing scheme is higher if distributed to individual farmers.

In order to help farmers and their organizations, or cooperatives, to be more bankable, mentoring and empowerment as well as efforts to increase their capacity are necessity. Farmers and their organizations are expected to be introduced with the modules that will help them to manage their finances more efficient and reliably. Obviously, this can only be achieved if there are advocacy organizations at the local level, in cooperation with local banks or financial institutions, which is experienced in financial management in the region or village. Such cooperation can foster trust between the institutions and farmers can ask for facilitation and improve themselves and the institution. In turn, when farmers and their organizations can better manage their finances, farmers’ bargaining position with the banks become bigger and stronger.

Innovations in the protection and fulfillment of social rights

One aspect that is important in the development of sustainable cocoa sector is social protection or the fulfillment of the rights of society. For Indonesia, the components that need to be considered among them is the empowerment of women, improved nutrition, and public access to activities in the supply chain that have been done mostly by the industries. The context of women empowerment is strategic because cocoa farming is perceived as a sector dominated by men. This has hampered women’s access to land and resource use associated with the cultivation of land, and of course funding. Therefore, various innovations needed to provide an opportunity for women to be involved. For example, in the training provided, the portion of women’s involvement will be increased, or the percentage of agricultural credit for women farmers. Or other things that can be tried to increase the capacity of women is to engage them in entrepreneurial endeavors in cocoa sector, to become a leader in the farmers organization and cooperatives.

In the context of malnutrition, there are some breakthroughs that need to be done. Cases of child malnutrition, physical growth interferences, and poor sanitation can be overcome by combining the productivity of farmers’ program with an increased intake of nutrition for families and children. One model that could be applied is to introduce the cultivation of plants that are useful for the improvement of nutrition, nutrition education, and changes in dietary components for farmers, and better family financial. Better family financial management certainly will help farmers to set aside some funds to meet nutrient intake for the family.

Innovations in better land management and prevention of deforestation

Although it is not like any other commodity that is more expansive, preventive aspects of environmental degradation, including the prevention of deforestation in the cocoa sector has become an integral part of market request. Prevention of environmental degradation and deforestation involving various parties and interests, especially in the management of space and land, which is quite complex. Most of the challenge is also associated with good or poor governance where the cocoa is developed.

In other place, cocoa could also be considered as a buffer, which in turn can protect the forest for looted or converted into other commodities. However, the development of cocoa in the buffer zone should be productive and add value to cocoa farmers to keep them from extending coverage into forest or replace cocoa plants into other plants that are more expansive.

Development of a model that balances between increasing productivity while protecting the forest (production-protection) is relevant to the condition of Indonesia that still has beautiful natural forest. Productive cocoa farmers who care to environment, in turn, can be a very effective forest guards. If the model production-protection developed with other concepts, a kind of agroforestry, it could be interesting for non-conventional investors. Such investors can provide funding for their carbon uptake or protection of biodiversity, or value-added. It could be categorized as an additional income for farmers.

This kind of model can be effectively developed when planned at a landscape scale, which would require the involvement of local governments. The involvement of stakeholders from other commodities also become important for better objectives of landscape management should be supported by all business actors, farmers, and governments. The landscape approach can also provide economic stability to the region because it does not only depend on a single commodity, as well multi-commodity development synergies can be achieved.

Balance in sustainability

In the development of sustainable cocoa sector, it is clear that the aspect of increasing productivity along with social and environmental protection should be encouraged in a balanced manner. The involvement of relevant stakeholders is also important because it can help ensure the realization of a sustainable cocoa in the field. Partnership in developing the model needs to be improved further in a higher or larger scale, such as at the landscape level. Indonesia, as the third largest cocoa producer country in the world, has the opportunity to transform the cocoa sector, which of course can only be done if the innovations and models mentioned above can be developed and implemented in the most important centers of cocoa across the country.



The writer is Indonesia Country Director at IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative. Email:

Membangun sektor kakao yang berkelanjutan

Oleh Fitrian Ardiansyah, di majalah COKELAT, Edisi 12, Januari – Mei 2016, hal. 10-13. Untuk versi pdf lengkap dari majalah ini (4MB), mohon lihat: post-LKipG-majalah-cokelat-2016-08-05-10-54-45-ID


DALAM beberapa tahun terakhir, sektor kakao di dunia dan juga di Indonesia, telah berupaya bertransformasi menjadi lebih berkelanjutan, ramah lingkungan dan sosial sambil terus meningkatkan produktivitasnya. Tantangan terbesar dalam membangun sektor kakao menjadi lebih lestari di antaranya adalah mengembangkan model bisnis di tingkat petani, yang tidak hanya berfokus kepada peningkatan produktivitas, tetapi juga mendorong kewirausahaan petani dan pengelolaan koperasi sekaligus memasukkan unsur perlindungan lingkungan.

Dengan tingkat produksi kakao 350.000 ton per tahunnya (2014/2015), Indonesia saat ini menempati peringkat ke tiga di dunia. Kakao merupakan salah satu komoditas ekspor terpenting untuk Indonesia. Komoditas ini juga penting bagi penduduk perdesaan dikarenakan mayoritas produksi kakao dihasilkan oleh petani kecil. Saat ini, Indonesia memiliki setidaknya 1,5 juta hektar luasan lahan yang ditanami dengan komoditas tanaman kakao, terutama di Sulawesi, Sumatera Utara, Jawa Barat, Papua dan Kalimantan Timur. Dengan banyaknya produksi kakao yang dihasilkan oleh petani kecil, aspek keberlanjutan atau kelestarian kakao tidak akan dapat
dicapai tanpa melibatkan petani kecil.

Untuk menjamin kesuksesan dalam membangun sektor kakao yang berkelanjutan, harus dibarengi dengan upaya selain untuk mendorong pengembangan opsi penghidupan yang berkelanjutan bagi desa tempat petani kakao tersebut tinggal, sekaligus membantu petani dalam peningkatan kapasitas kewirausahaan. Tanpa inovasi yang membantu kapasitas petani (terutama dalam konteks peningkatan produktivitas, pengelolaan lahan yang lebih baik dan pendanaan organisasi petani atau koperasi) akan sulit menjamin keberlanjutan sektor kakao.

Selain itu, dikarenakan situasi pasar ekspor yang dewasa ini juga semakin meminta suatu komoditas untuk diproduksi dengan lebih memperhatikan unsur perlindungan sosial dan lingkungan, pengembangan kakao yang berkelanjutan di Indonesia harus mencakup aspek pengembangan masyarakat setempat, pemberdayaan perempuan, pengentasan kemiskinan dan malnutrisi, dan pengelolaan lahan yang tidak menimbulkan kebakaran lahan, degradasi lingkungan, dan deforestasi. Dalam merealisasikan sektor kakao yang berkelanjutan, pengembangan model atau proof-of-concepts yang digagas bersama oleh pelaku industri, organisasi nirlaba, kelompok petani, maupun pemerintah menjadi penting. Dikarenakan model tersebut diharapkan bisa direplikasi atau dikembangkan di skala yang lebih luas untuk menjamin cakupan konsep untuk sektor kakao berkelanjutan diadopsi oleh banyak pihak.

Inovasi dalam peningkatan produktivitas lahan dan pendanaan petani

Dibandingkan komoditas perkebunan lainnya, salah satu tantangan untuk mewujudkan sektor kakao berkelanjutan adalah rendahnya tingkat produktivitas tanaman kakao, terutama yang dihasilkan oleh petani dengan satuan per hektarnya. Dikarenakan hal tersebut, sejumlah besar petani kakao terjebak dalam siklus kemiskinan yang terus menerus dan dililit hutang yang signifikan. Input yang rendah yang kemudian menghasilkan output yang rendah (kuantitas dan kualitas), secara kronis menghambat pertumbuhan komoditas kakao. Skema untuk membantu petani dalam penyediaan input yang lebih baik, masih belum mempunyai standar yang sama.

Sedangkan, pendanaan untuk petani sendiri dalam mengelola lahan yang lebih baik seringkali tidak tersedia dengan alasan bahwa lembaga perbankan masih melihat tingginya risiko untuk membantu mereka dalam mengelola lahan, sehingga petani masih bergantung kepada pemberi dana informal yang hanya memberikan dana terbatas dan dalam waktu singkat, dan tentunya dengan tingkat suku bunga yang tinggi. Kondisi ini diperparah kemudian dengan usia tanaman yang sudah tua dan semakin menua, ditambah dengan skema pendanaan untuk peremajaan dan rehabilitasi yang belum jelas bentuknya.

Walau begitu, sebenarnya ada beberapa inisiatif yang sudah dikembangkan di beberapa tempat untuk mengatasi siklus input rendah-output rendah tersebut. Sebagai contoh, bantuan dari perusahaan yang bertindak sebagai mitra petani yang kemudian bisa menjamin harga yang rendah dalam pembelian pupuk sangat membantu petani dalam kepastian input dari segi pemupukan. Pengembangan sertifikasi dan traceability (lacak balak dalam rantai pasokan) juga membantu memperkuat hubungan antara perusahaan/pembeli dan petani serta dapat membantu mengidentifikasi komponen- -komponen di tingkat petani yang perlu diperkuat, termasuk dalam hal input. Skema pendanaan dan berbagi risiko dalam penyediaan pupuk dan penyewaan truk, juga bisa didorong sebagai inovasi yang akan membantu kepastian input. Selain itu, sistem perbankan elektronik (mobile banking) juga terus digagas sebagai inovasi yang akan menempatkan petani sebagai pelaku yang bisa lebih dipercaya untuk mendapatkan bantuan dalam penyediaan input.

Untuk mencapai skala yang lebih luas dari inovasi-inovasi yang telah dilakukan, kerjasama antara berbagai pemangku kepentingan (pemerintah setempat, perbankan setempat, dan internasional) menjadi penting. Kerjasama ini diperlukan terutama untuk menghasilkan berbagai skema pendanaan dengan jangka waktu menengah atau panjang yang mendorong ketersediaan dukungan pendanaan dalam penyediaan input untuk lahan petani, kepemilikan atau penyewaan lahan, dan pembiayaan operasional lainnya. Agar pendekatan ini berhasil, terbentuknya dan efektifnya organisasi petani ataupun koperasi sangatlah penting. Tanpa adanya organisasi petani atau koperasi yang efektif, akan sulit bagi perbankan untuk menggelontorkan pendanaan dikarenakan risiko bagi skema pendanaan tersebut menjadi lebih tinggi jika disalurkan ke petani perseorangan.

Dalam rangka membantu petani serta organisasinya, ataupun koperasi, menjadi lebih bankable, pendampingan, dan pemberdayaan serta upaya peningkatan kapasitas mereka merupakan keniscayaan. Petani dan organisasinya, diharapkan dapat diperkenalkan dengan modul- -modul yang akan membantu mereka untuk mengelola keuangannya menjadi lebih efisien dan terpercaya. Tentunya, hal ini hanya bisa dicapai bila terdapat organisasi pendamping di tingkat lokal, yang bekerja sama dengan perbankan ataupun lembaga keuangan setempat, yang memang berpengalaman dalam pengelolaan keuangan di tingkat kecamatan atau desa. Kerjasama semacam ini dapat menumbuhkan kepercayaan antara lembaga-lembaga tersebut dan petani dapat dengan memudah bertanya dan memperbaiki diri dan lembaganya. Pada gilirannya, ketika petani dan organisasinya dapat mengelola keuangannya dengan lebih baik, daya dan posisi negosiasi petani dengan pihak perbankan menjadi lebih besar dan kuat.

Inovasi dalam perlindungan dan pemenuhan hak-hak sosial

Salah satu aspek yang penting dalam pembangunan sektor kakao berkelanjutan adalah perlindungan sosial atau pemenuhan hak-hak masyarakat. Untuk Indonesia, komponen-komponen yang perlu diperhatikan di antaranya adalah pemberdayaan perempuan, peningkatan nutrisi, dan akses masyarakat kepada aktivitas di rantai pasok yang selama ini lebih banyak dikerjakan oleh industri. Konteks pemberdayaan perempuan menjadi strategis dikarenakan petani kakao banyak yang dipersepsikan sebagai sektor yang didominasi oleh laki-laki. Hal ini telah dianggap menghambat akses perempuan dalam penggunaan lahan dan sumberdaya yang berkaitan dengan lahan budidaya tersebut, dan tentunya pendanaan. Karenanya, berbagai inovasi diperlukan untuk memberikan kesempatan bagi perempuan terlibat. Sebagai contoh, dalam pelatihan yang diberikan, porsi keterlibatan perempuan ditingkatkan, ataupun persentase pemberian kredit pertanian juga bagi petani perempuan. Ataupun hal lainnya yang bisa dicoba adalah dengan meningkatkan kapasitas perempuan untuk terlibat dalam upaya kewirausahaan komoditas kakao, dengan menjadi pemimpin di dalam organisasi petani ataupun koperasi.

Dalam konteks malnutrisi, ada beberapa terobosan yang perlu dilakukan. Kasus malnutrisi pada anak, gangguan pertumbuhan, dan sanitasi yang kurang dapat diatasi dengan mengombinasikan program produktivitas petani dengan peningkatan asupan gizi bagi keluarga dan anak. Salah satu model yang bisa diterapkan adalah dengan memperkenalkan penanaman tumbuhan yang berguna bagi peningkatan gizi, pembelajaran mengenai gizi itu sendiri, dan perubahan komponen diet bagi petani dan keluarganya. Pengelolaan keuangan yang lebih baik tentunya akan membantu petani menyisihkan sebagian dananya untuk memenuhi asupan gizi bagi keluarganya.

Inovasi dalam pengelolaan lahan yang lebih baik dan pencegahan deforestasi

Walau tidak seperti komoditas lainnya yang lebih ekspansif, aspek pencegahan degradasi lingkungan termasuk pencegahan deforestasi di sektor kakao sudah menjadi bagian integral yang diminta pelaku pasar. Pencegahan degradasi lingkungan dan deforestasi, hanya saja, melibatkan berbagai pihak dan kepentingan, terutama dalam pengelolaaan ruang dan lahan, yang cukup kompleks. Sebagian tantangannya juga berkaitan dengan baik atau buruknya tata pemerintahan di tempat komoditas kakao tersebut dikembangkan.

Di tempat lain, kakao juga bisa dianggap sebagai buffer (penyangga) yang pada gilirannya dapat melindungi hutan untuk tidak dijarah atau dikonversi menjadi komoditas lainnya. Namun, pengembangan komoditas kakao di kawasan penyangga tersebut haruslah produktif dan mempunyai nilai tambah sehingga petani kakao tidak melebarkan cakupan lahannya ke dalam hutan ataupun mengganti tanaman kakaonya menjadi tanaman lainnya yang lebih ekspansif.

Pengembangan model yang menyeimbangkan peningkatan produktivitas sekaligus perlindungan hutan (production-protection) sangatlah relevan dengan kondisi Indonesia yang masih mempunyai banyak tutupan hutan yang masih asri. Petani kakao yang produktif dan peduli lingkungan, pada gilirannya dapat menjadi penjaga hutan yang sangat efektif. Jika model production-protection dikembangkan dengan konsep lainnya, semacam agroforestry, bisa jadi menarik bagi investor non-konvensional. Investor tersebut misalnya dapat memberikan pendanaan karena adanya serapan karbon atau perlindungan keanekaragaman hayati, atau nilai tambah lainnya. Hal tersebut bisa dikategorikan sebagai penambahan pendapatan bagi petani.

Model semacam ini dapat secara efektif dikembangkan bila ada perencanaan di skala bentang alam (lanskap) yang tentunya memerlukan keterlibatan pemerintah setempat. Keterlibatan pelaku dari komoditas lain juga menjadi penting karena tujuan pengelolaan lanskap yang baik harus didukung oleh semua pelaku usaha, petani, dan pemerintah. Pendekatan lanskap ini juga dapat memberikan kestabilan ekonomi bagi daerah tersebut karena tidak hanya bergantung kepada satu komoditas, sekaligus sinergi pengembangan multi-komoditas dapat tercapai.

Keseimbangan dalam keberlanjutan 

Dalam pembangunan sektor kakao yang berkelanjutan, secara jelas terlihat bahwa aspek peningkatan produktivitas sekaligus perlindungan sosial dan lingkungan perlu didorong secara seimbang. Keterlibatan pemangku kepentingan yang terkait juga penting dikarenakan hal ini dapat membantu menjamin realisasi komoditas kakao yang berkelanjutan di lapangan. Kemitraan dalam mengembangkan model perlu ditingkatkan lebih lanjut dalam skala yang lebih tinggi atau luas, semisal di tingkat lanskap. Indonesia, sebagai negara produsen kakao ke tiga terbesar di dunia, mempunyai kesempatan melakukan transformasi di sektor kakao, yang tentunya hanya bisa dilakukan bila inovasi-inovasi dan model-model yang disebutkan sebelumnya bisa terus dikembangkan dan yang terpenting diterapkan di sentra kakao di seluruh nusantara.


Penulis adalah Indonesia Country Director untuk IDH-The Sustainable Trade Initiative. Email di


Flooding: looking beyond Jakarta

by Fitrian ArdiansyahErik Meijaard and Jessie Wells, published in The Jakarta Globe, 4 December 2013, Opinion.

Original link:

Anyone living in Jakarta is more than familiar with the huge impacts of flooding, and the need for greater efforts for prevention and management. And yet, when it comes to the focus and support from the government for these actions, Jakarta may be more “fortunate” compared to other parts of the country that suffer from frequent floods, such as Kalimantan.

Heavy tropical rainfall causes flooding nearly everywhere in the Indonesian archipelago. According to the recent projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in the coming decades Indonesia may receive less rainfall between July and October, but increased rains (and higher intensities) are expected during the wet season.

A combination of continuing environmental degradation (e.g. through deforestation and erosion), climate change that leads to sea level rise and extreme weather events, and poor infrastructure, has increased the urgency for Indonesia to address flooding issues not only through emergency response, but pro-actively through land use planning, mitigation and adaptation.

Some government agencies at the national and sub-national levels, including the Jakarta government, appear to be increasingly aware of the significant social and economic impacts that flooding can have, and are starting to take steps to reduce risks and mitigate impacts.

Others are yet to take action. In Kalimantan, for example, the government and key stakeholders need to make a dramatic shift away from their current business-as-usual approach to development and reactive approach to flooding, to avoid severe impacts that risk collapse of the island’s economic and humanitarian systems.

More than 20 major rivers flow through Kalimantan. Disturbances to the hydro-climatic systems, ecosystems and land use in the catchment areas of these rivers will have serious consequences for the island’s water supplies, transportation networks, and the capacity of its people to further develop their economies and moderate the impacts of droughts and fires.

With regard to flooding, a recent study titled Forests, Floods, People and Wildlife on Borneo showed that problems caused by flooding in Kalimantan are much larger than previously recognized, that flood risks are being exacerbated by trends in climate, land use and urbanization, and that urgent and forward-thinking actions are needed to address these issues.

This study, published by the United Nations Environment Program, estimates that between April 2010 and 2013, media-reported flood events inundated between 197,000 and 360,000 houses in Kalimantan, and displaced between 776,000 and 1.5 million people. The authors emphasize that these are conservative estimates, since many events go unreported, and independent surveys in 354 villages indicated that flooding occurred annually or even more frequently in at least 49 percent of villages in the island — with large social and economic impacts.

This study also found that 18 percent of villages experienced an increase in flood frequencies over the past 30 years. Increases in flood frequencies were primarily concentrated in the middle Mahakam area in East Kalimantan, the lower and middle reaches of the Barito, Kahayan, Sampit and Lamandau Rivers in South and Central Kalimantan, and the low-lying swamps around the Kapuas River in West Kalimantan. Reports of increasing flood frequencies were also strongly associated with increased turbidity and declines in water quality.

These are all areas with high human population densities and increasing agricultural developments, indicating that future economic impacts of flooding could be larger still.

One important aspect specifically explored in the study is the link between deforestation and changes in flood frequencies. The study concludes that it is not possible yet to understand the full picture of the complex relationships between land cover, topography and flooding, but the data indicate that increases in flooding were most likely in areas that have experienced more extensive deforestation for oil palm development, or severe degradation through logging and fires.

Such findings are important for Indonesia’s land use policies. Indonesia’s regulations (including Agriculture Ministry Decree No. 837 of 1980), have provided guidance for identifying lands that play an important role in watershed protection, based on considerations of slope, soil type and rainfall intensity.

However, vast areas of lands that meet these criteria have not been gazetted with any protection status such as protection forest (hutan lindung), but instead have been given out to industrial logging or other development activities incompatible with maintaining their hydrological functions. Such areas include large areas of Kalimantan’s forests on steep slopes or on deep peats, which continue to be converted despite the consequences.

The recent moratorium policy on forest and peat land conversion issued by the national government provides an opportunity for remaining areas to be protected, conserved and sustainably managed.

Taking up this opportunity will require governments at each level to effectively implement and monitor existing policies; to strengthen capacities for landscape planning that sustains the vital functions of watersheds, alongside other ecosystem benefits and economic developments; and to integrate land use planning with local preventive measures for flooding and adaptation to flooding regimes.

Otherwise, flooding impacts associated with deforestation and forest degradation in Kalimantan are only going to get worse.

In addition, rapid migration and urban expansion in the coastal and riverine lowlands affects both the likelihood of flood events (e.g. through altered hydrology and land subsidence), and amplifies the likely impacts of those events on larger and more concentrated populations of vulnerable people. Trends toward urbanization are likely to continue, and so an urgent and sustained effort is needed to reduce the impacts of urban and upstream development on flood risks, and to make settlements as resilient as possible to the risks that remain.

The government needs to act urgently. Agus Purnomo, a member of the Special Staff to the Indonesian President on Climate Change and the head of the secretariat of the National Council on Climate Change, states that many weather-related disasters in Indonesia, such as flooding and landslides, are having increasing impacts. He further argues that it is not only new policies that Indonesia requires, but also increased capacity, sufficient resources and adequate technology to address this issue.

Such comprehensive thinking, however, needs to be translated and supported at the local level, particularly in Kalimantan’s political agendas. Reading local newspapers, one wonders whether politicians in Kalimantan share similar concerns, since most discussions or actions related to flooding focus on mitigation through hard infrastructure (e.g. flood defenses), and appear to neglect efforts for hazard reduction or prevention (e.g. maintaining forested watersheds and improving infrastructure) or risk-reduction and adaptation.

It is time for government to put into effect its own, existing policies, including the government’s commitments to sustaining essential watershed functions, to reducing emissions from land use, and to maintaining at least 45 percent of Kalimantan’s land area as forest (Presidential Decree No. 3 of 2012).

To achieve this, the national government, through its Forestry Ministry, Environment Ministry and recently established REDD+ Agency (reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, plus conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks), needs to enhance collaboration with local governments to enable land use planning that integrates the multiple functions of landscapes, including rigorously identifying which forests should be protected from development and which areas can be sustainably used or developed, and how.

The One Map Initiative, for example, can be used to guide the process on the ground so that needs for economic development can be met in concert with (rather than at a cost to) environmental protection and ecosystem services.

It is essential for the government and key stakeholders to show that the country’s commitments to addressing deforestation, climate change and disaster risks are concrete and meaningful. With this, as a society, we can hope that Indonesia will be able to beat the flooding challenge.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and program development director at Pelangi Indonesia.

Erik Meijaard is a long-term Indonesia-based conservation scientist leading the Borneo Futures initiative as a consultant for People and Nature Consulting International.

Jessie Wells is a postdoc at the Environmental Decisions Group, University of Queensland, researching hydrological ecosystem services in Kalimantan.

Improved governance crucial to protect our most pristine forests

by Fitrian Ardiansyah and Erik Meijaard, published in The Jakarta Globe, 20 September 2013, Opinion.

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A recent regulation issued by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the National REDD+ [reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation plus] Agency shows the government’s continuous willingness to better manage our environment. Yet, it also triggers an interesting question about whether the establishment of this new agency is sufficient to save our remaining forests.

Indonesia is one of the most important countries in the world for biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, and has more species than all other countries but Brazil. Also, because of its unique geology, the country has very high levels of endemism: species occur here but nowhere else.

Indonesia and its population have every reason to be proud of their incredible natural heritage. Nevertheless, more serious and comprehensive efforts appear to be needed to ensure that this heritage can be sustained and enjoyed by future generations too.

In Indonesia, some of the most pristine forests have been gazetted as protected areas. These are the cornerstone of ecosystem and wildlife conservation, and to a large extent, have provided human populations with valuable goods and services, including water and local climate regulation.

Protected areas are supposed to provide a safe haven for endangered animal and plant life, away from the human threats, such as over-exploitation and disturbance. In this country, however, the reality seems different. Two recent studies, for instance, found that Indonesian protected areas had suffered from significant deforestation between 2000 and 2010.

A study by Douglas Fuller of the University of Miami and colleagues — in press in the Indonesian Journal of Nature Conservation — is likely the first-ever assessment looking at all terrestrial protected areas in Indonesia, including national parks, and nature and wildlife reserves. The study reveals that between 2000 and 2010 these areas lost 3,700 square kilometers of forest, equaling about half the greater metropolitan area of Jakarta.

When it comes to the status of the areas, deforestation rates in nature and wildlife reserves were about twice as high as those in national parks. Such different deforestation rates may be due to the fact that national parks have been slightly better equipped with funds, human resources and technology compared to other protected areas.

A second study published in the journal PLOS ONE, and led by David Gaveau of the Center for International Forestry Research in Bogor, confirms similar findings.

This study assessed forest loss in Kalimantan between 2000 and 2010. An estimated 303,525 square kilometers or 57 percent of Kalimantan’s land area was covered by natural forest in 2000, of which 14,212 square kilometers had been cleared by 2010. Forests in oil palm concessions had been reduced by 5,600 square kilometers, while the figures for logging concessions are 1,336 square kilometers and for protected forests 1,122 square kilometers. The remaining deforestation happened in land with other uses, such as small-scale agriculture.

In relative terms the study showed that deforestation rates in timber concessions and protected areas were not significantly different. This is a surprising finding since timber removal is obviously allowed in logging concessions but not in protected areas.

This finding, however, can provide a crucial suggestion. This could mean regardless of the status of forests — either production or conservation and unless not changed to conversion forest — as long the areas are well managed, deforestation can be largely avoided.

Under Indonesian laws, logging concessions have to be managed sustainably and remain permanently forest-covered. If these concessions are well-managed, they can continuously function as wildlife habitats and host a wide range of forest species, as well as generate income for government, companies and surrounding communities.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature recognizes this conservation potential of well-managed timber concessions.

Still, this only works as long as the government does not license the conversion of these natural forest concessions to non-forest land uses, such as oil palm plantations, which are of far less value to wildlife, ecosystems and people’s livelihoods.

The remaining forests of Indonesia provide important wildlife habitats and are greatly valued by people for a range of products and services (including flood buffering, temperature control, but also a free source of bush meat and fish). The future of Indonesia’s forest wildlife and the prevention of natural disasters therefore greatly depends on preventing further forest loss in protected areas and timber concessions.

The two studies suggest, however, that much works needs to be done by the Indonesian government and society since either protected areas or logging concessions seem to be inadequately managed and not strong enough to prevent deforestation.

The core weaknesses of the present protected area management system, for instance, will have to be addressed urgently. Performance-based systems should help the government to reward improvement in management and penalize failure, increasing the accountability of those in charge. The new REDD+ agency could support such systems.

Sustainable management of remaining forest areas from which timber can be legally harvested is a second key strategy. President Yudhoyono, for example, committed in 2012 to maintaining at least 45 percent of Kalimantan’s land area as forest.

Achieving such a target requires integration of forest estate planning, including prevention of further conversion of the remaining forests and ensuring that other development planning, both at sub-national and national levels, is synergized. Also, improved governance of forests requires further reforms in forest and land use licensing and management.

Indonesia still has significant forest areas. The future of these valuable resources is in the hands of the government, private sector and public. We need to continuously make decisions and put forward actions that not only boost our current economic growth but also sustain it and secure the country’s future economy by keeping and sustainably managing our forests.

Fitrian Ardiansyah is a doctoral candidate at the Australian National University and a recipient of Australian Leadership Award and Allison Sudradjat Award.

Erik Meijaard is a long-term Indonesia-based conservation scientist leading the Borneo Futures initiative as a consultant for People and Nature Consulting International.