Cocoa in Flores, Indonesia

Cocoa in Flores, Indonesia

Helping farmers to end the abusive ijon practice.

Globally, chocolate consumption has boomed over the course of the last decade. Consumption in Asia and Latin America is rising rapidly. At present, the European Union and North America represent 60% of the world's chocolate consumption. There is a worldwide need to create a more sustainable form of cocoa production that will boost productivity so that future demand can be met. Small-scale farmers, who are responsible for 90% of global production, are therefore key to this revolution.

Indonesia is the world’s third biggest cocoa producer, but its yield is relatively low. On the Indonesian island of Flores, nearly 1/10th of farmland is used for cultivating cocoa trees, which are essential to the regional economy. Flores is divided into 8 regencies and Rikolto works in two of them: Ende and Sikka.

Cocoa is the main source of revenue for farmers in Ende and it is commonly supplemented with other crops. In this area we collaborate with Sikap cooperative. In the district of Sikka, on the other hand, we work with Romeo cocoa farmers' cooperative. Sikka used to have a strong cocoa sector, but during the last decade production has halved due to pests and ageing plantations. There are 33,278 small-scale producers whose main commodity is copra (coconuts), whereas cocoa is a secondary crop. These producers are not yet organised in a farmers’ organisation.

Most of the farmers receive subsidised rice from the government to fulfil their nutrition needs. There is a need for generators because even houses which are connected to electricity lines receive an irregular supply.


  • Production is low, below the national average, due to ageing plantations, a lack of Good Agricultural Practices and pests.
  • Most of the farmers need subsidised rice from the government to ensure healthy nutrition.
  • The cocoa quality does not meet the national standard because there are not enough checks.
  • The limited availability of drying storage facilities and other post-harvest facilities increases the cost of transport and reduces the cocoa quality.
  • Prevalence of the Ijon system (the practice of mortgaging unripe crops) in which the farmer sells their production before harvest to a moneylender for a much lower price due to the lack of credit opportunities.
  • Farmers' organisations are too weak to influence the cocoa sector.

Our Strategies

  • To increase productivity, we foster Good Agricultural Practices through the P3S model: organic fertilisation, pruning, picking and sanitation. We spread this method by training cocoa experts who will later create Learning Gardens in each village to spread their knowledge.
  • To control pests, we import seedlings from Sulawesi Island and use grafting techniques to produce more resistant cocoa trees.
  • To secure the food sovereignty of families, we implement a more efficient multi-crop system that will diversify their production.
  • To stop the Ijon practice, we help farmers to access fair loans from credit unions.
  • To improve quality, we help the associations to create and supervise Internal Quality Controls that meet the Indonesian National Standard (SNI).
  • We are pushing for the creation of a farmers’ organisation in Sikka.
  • We help SIKAP to increase the capacity of its cocoa drying facilities.
  • To strengthen the farmers’ associations, we organise courses in management and entrepreneurship.
  • We facilitate multi-stakeholder meetings, in order for the farmers to have a voice in the Cocoa Sustainability Partnership (the national cocoa network).
  • In Sikka, we facilitate a business meeting between Romeo and Chosik, a government-owned cocoa processing factory, in which Chosik is committed to buying fermented cocoa beans from three cocoa farmers' cooperatives in Sikka, one of which is Romeo.

Total beneficiaries

In 2019, at least 557 farmers and their families received benefits due to our interventions:

  • 157 farmers of Romeo Cooperative (114 male farmers and 30 female farmers)

  • 400 farmers of Sikap Cooperative (290 female farmers and 45 farmers)

2019 Results

Key milestones for cocoa cooperatives in Flores:

  • Romeo Cocoa Cooperative in Sikka District signed an agreement with Chosik, government-owned cocoa processing company, to supply 1 ton of fermented dried cocoa beans throughout 2019.

  • Cocoa farmers in Ende District, assisted by Kopan Sikap, supplied dried cocoa beans to big companies, one of which is Cargill.

2018 Results

  • In Sikka District, Romeo Cocoa Farmers' Cooperative was established in 2016 and it has been starting a fermented cocoa beans business ever since.

  • In Ende District, Sikap Cocoa Farmers' Cooperative has diversified its business by setting up a cocoa tree seedlings nursery.

  • In Flores, local style agroforestry, Ongen, has been promoted to cocoa farmers. Ongen has both ecological and economic benefits. Farmers intercrop cocoa trees with other plants that can be sold and or consumed and integrate cocoa with livestock farming.

"With a local-style agroforestry that we call "ongen", we have an additional income through the sale of fruits and vegetables. My family also depends on this farm to get vegetables for our daily consumption."

Herman Hompi Cocoa farmer in Flores

Peni Agustijanto
Peni Agustijanto
Cocoa & Coffee Southeast Asia Regional Director