Indonesia has been the world’s third largest cocoa producer over the past twenty years and contributes export earnings in excess of US$1.4 billion per year. Cocoa is the main source of income and livelihood for more than one million farm households in Indonesia. More than half of these producers are in eastern Indonesia.
Cocoa growing began seriously in Sulawesi in the late 1980s and considerably lifted the fortunes of cocoa-growing communities over the next two decades. But since the early 2000s production has been hit hard by a build-up of pests and diseases, tree senescence and deteriorating soil fertility, causing many farmers to lose heart and abandon the crop.
In mid 2008, the Indonesian Government announced a large national program for revitalisation of the cocoa industry (known as Gernas Pro Kakao). With funds from AusAID and ACIAR, the Indonesian Cocoa Industry Association (ASKINDO) co-sponsored a workshop in Indonesia in October 2008, under the umbrella of the Cocoa Sustainability Partnership (http://www.cspindonesia.org/index.php), to provide technical recommendations for the implementation of Gernas Pro Kakao.
The Indonesian Government recently announced a 3-year program to revitalise cocoa farming in Sulawesi. The program aims to replace up to 70,000 hectares of cocoa, rehabilitate another 140,000 hectares and intensify farming on 300,000 hectares - bringing the total planted area to around 900,000 hectares of productive cocoa.
The Australian Government-funded Smallholder Agribusiness Development Initiative, with its extensive government and commercial partnerships, is bringing in the expertise and technologies to revive and improve the industry. It is giving smallholder farmers more control over the long-term sustainability of their cocoa production, and is restoring the economic opportunities that cocoa offers poor rural communities.