Ramli’s ideas to engage more young people in cocoa farming found a fertile ground when Amanah Cocoa Farmers’ Cooperative, Rikolto’s partner, was also on a mission to lure millennials into cocoa businesses. So, since January 2019, Rikolto, Amanah Cooperative and Village-Owned Enterprise (BUMDes) Inaya have collaborated to train and mentor 140 millennials in 6 villages in Polewali Mandar District. The main theme of this capacity-building package is Millennials Building the Village (Milenial Bangun Desa) aiming to encourage millennials to be part of the village transformation. Millennials participating in the training are university students, organic farming enthusiasts, and also school dropouts.
But how can millennials be persuaded to return to cocoa farms when they see farming as an out-dated job? Cocoa farming indeed takes a lot of work. But with good practices and better farm management, cocoa farms can serve as a sustainable source of income for rural communities. The key to engage millennials is to create an enabling environment for them to have a meaningful participation in cocoa value chains.
We use a “bar to bean” approach, instead of a bean to bar approach. This means that we introduce millennials to cocoa-based end products initially, because they are more familiar with chocolate rather than with cocoa trees. By observing various cocoa derivative products, millennials learn about cocoa processing business opportunities. As we get their attention, we gradually introduce them to cocoa farming practices.
- Create an environment that nurtures creativity
Millennials in Indonesia travel more than any other age groups. Anything about travelling and tourism excite them. To help them learn and understand about cocoa farms, one of the training sessions given was about designing agro-tourism model in the farms. Through this session, participants tossed ideas around to find the most creative and feasible idea.
Collaboration is at the heart of millennials’ work style yet it is important to demonstrate them a productive and inspiring collaboration. Hence, we connect the participants with other cocoa chain actors, such as universities, financial institution, Village-Owned Enterprise (BUMDes) and cooperative. They can really see the benefit of connecting with these actors to help them learn more especially about market and financial access.