Internal quality control helps farmers to market their products. Two farmer groups that are VECO Indonesia partners in Boyolali, Central Java and Polewali Mandar (Polman), West Sulawesi, apply internal control systems (ICS). These two groups are Asosiasi Petani Padi Organik Boyolali (Appoli) and Kelompok Tani Amanah in Polman.
Appoli, VECO Indonesia partner in Boyolali, obtained Indonesian National Standard certification from Biocert, a national organic certification agency, in October 2011. This certification covers 77.17 hectares of farmland managed by 270 farmers. This area includes 29.2 hectares owned by the Pangudi Boga farmer group, 33.54 hectares belonging to the Pangudi Raharjo farmer group, and 13.71 hectares owned by the Budi Rahayu farmer group.
Appoli is currently in the process of obtaining fair trade certification from IMO, an international certification organisation based in Switzerland.
VECO Indonesia partner in Polman, Pusat Koperasi Tani Amanah, has obtained sustainable cocoa certification from UTZ, an international certification organisation based in the Netherlands. Sustainable certification is certification for environmental friendly products that are grown with minimal, planned and strictly controlled use of pesticides and chemicals.
Amanah is an association of cocoa farmer groups that have a total membership of around 1,500 farmers. They are spread across five subdistricts in Polman (Tutar, Luyo, Tapango, Mapilli, and Anreapi). Cocoa gardens in these five subdistricts account for around 59,000 hectares of the 165,000 hectares of cocoa garden in West Sulawesi. The area of the gardens of farmers supported by Amanah and Wasiat is 27,433 hectares.
Having certification facilitates the farmers’ access to national markets and opens up opportunities for exporting their agricultural products. Farmers in Boyolali, for example, sell their rice to fast food restaurant KFC, to rice exporter Agro Bloom, and to Bina Bakat cooperative, which is managed by Lembaga Swadaya Kemasyarakatan dan Bina Bakat (LSKBB) Solo.
Appoli also sells organic rice to consumers via organic outlets that are managed by the organic product consumer community in this city.
Amanah sells its products to cocoa processing firm Armajaro Indonesia. The volume of these sales has grown from year to year, from 33 tons in 2006 to 230 tons in 2010. In 2011, the volume of sales was around 1,000 tons.
This improved access to buyers and growth in product sales has to do with the application of ICS by these two VECO Indonesia partners. After successfully implementing ICS, they applied for certification. “Without certification, they would not be able to sell their products on the international market,” said Imam Suharto, VECO Indonesia Consumer Awareness and Advocacy Coordinator and ICS facilitator.
For this reason, says Imam, VECO Indonesia encourages its partner farmer groups to develop quality control systems, such as ICS. VECO Indonesia also provides training in this for its partners. All partners in the four program areas in Sulawesi, Java, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) 1 and NTT 2 have received this training.
“Our farmer group partners in other locations are working to implement internal control systems for their agricultural products, although they have yet to receive certification,” he added.
Certification alone, continued Imam, is a long-term or second priority for VECO Indonesia. Certification is needed only if the buyer requests it. Otherwise, implementing ICS is enough.
The main aim of ICS and certification for these producer groups, and the aim of VECO Indonesia, is to strengthen farmer / producer organisations. “Because ICS and certification would not be possible if the management of the farmer organisation were not strong,” said Imam.