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  • Asian Cocoa


Indonesia is the third larger producer of coca beans in the world after Ivory Coast, and Ghana, and cocoa beans is one of the most important agricultural exports commodities of the country.

In 2019, the top five importing countries for Indonesian cocoa were Malaysia, America, India, China and the Netherlands.

Its production of cocoa in 2020 was 0,74 million tons (Ivory Coast 2,2 million tons).

Aceh is a semi-autonomous Indonesian province on the northwest tip of Sumatra Island. After a long-lasting conflict and the disastrous effects of the 2004 tsunami, cocoa development in Aceh has been booming. Although the island of Sulawesi produces 75% of the country’s cocoa beans, the government has been reinforcing Aceh as the national cocoa production region as the greatest cocoa producing regions in Indonesia.

Since 2016, two cooperatives in the main production regions in Aceh have received the Universal Trade Zone (UTZ) certificate facilitated by the private organization. This success shows that the community cocoa farming in Aceh has fulfilled sustainable principals. However, cocoa productivity in Aceh has been continuously decreasing while the land use transformation from cocoa to other commodities reveals a switch to more promising production.

Sustainability Aceh
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This paper analyses the sustainability of the cocoa development in Aceh. It shows that “the cocoa farming sustainability still encounters ecological, social, and economical environmental problems. The ecological sustainability problems were found from high pest and disease attacks. The social sustainability problems were found on low cocoa plantation certificate retrieval, which required all stakeholder roles to support the sustainable production system implementation in cocoa farmers. The economical sustainability was still low, but there was an increased sustainability level after implementing the Good Agricultural Practices in cocoa culture.”

Sustainability, what does it mean for cocoa farming and chocolate making?

As David Stuart recalls, it is important to note that the term "sustainability", although commonly used, may refer to different practices.

In the chocolate industry, discussions about cocoa sustainability programs were prompted in the 1990s by the pests and disease that are common in the rainforest environment, where most cocoa plantations are.

In his chapter dedicated to sustainability, Stuart, who is the CEO of a consulting firm called Food and Nutrient Impact, LLC.,and who founded and led the Hershey Center for Health and Nutrition, summarises how the chocolate industry began to engage in such programs. In particular, he gives the example of an insect which spread from Malaysia to Indonesia, when pods were taken in 1993 from Sabah and transplanted to Sulawesi, after the collapse of the Malaysian cocoa production. NGO, local farmers but also the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation were concerned, researchers were involved to find solutions and bring training to the farmers. "This effort was one of the first to use a broad-brush approach to an agricultural problem engaging chocolate manufacturers, cocoa processors and local governments, and to draw upon multilateral funding— in this case from the US Government—in order to engage multi-lateral groups such as the United Nations, which supports the FAO." (Stuart pp 35-36)

Following, there have been many international meetings, partnerships and attempts to define policy environment frameworks. The World Cocoa Foundation was established in 2000. Child labour was another important topic for these new institutions to deal with.

At the same time, more cocoa certifications have been created.

"For cocoa, the three main parties are:

- The Rainforest Alliance, whose stated objectives are to support farmers and communities, protect land and waterways and improve growers’ incomes;

- UTZ, a Netherlands-based organisation serving primarily Europe, whose stated objectives are to enable farmers to learn better farming methods, thus improving farm income to allow for improving working conditions and taking better care of their children and the environment;

- Fair Trade, whose stated objectives are to produce quality products, improve lives and protect the environment." (Stuart p.48)

in Stuart, D.A. Sustainable Cocoa Production: A Healthy Bean Supply. 2015. Chap. 2, pp 28-55. In: Chocolate and Health, Chemistry, Nutrition and Therapy. eds. P.K. Wilson, W.J Hurst. Royal Soc. Chemistry. Cambridge, UK.

"In other words, sustainable development is an effort to combine environmental problem and socio-economical problem as an answer for the latest and future challenges. A cocoa agricultural farming based on ecological aspect is characterised to have low pest and disease attacks, appropriate land for plant nutrient requirement, reinforced environmental sanitation, implemented land conservation, and sustained biodiversity. The economical sustainability can be explained based on the farmer income, productivity, cost efficiency, and product price level. Sustainability based on the social aspect can be identified from agricultural farming benefit for farmers and surrounding community, consist of social management system, worker’s equity, occupational health and safety, and public relation.

In sustaining the farming, a holistic approach is required on three sustainability pillars. The cocoa sustainability will be achieved when the stewardship of farmer activity and his farming also considers on the social responsibility.

Production certification achievement simplifies the farmers to perform selling cooperation with good price rate.”


“Improving the sustainability of cocoa smallholders farming in Aceh, Indonesia,” Iskandar & al, IOP Conf. Series: Earth and Environmental Science 951 (2022)

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