- Learning Network
Challenges · Biodiversity · Livelihoods
Approximately 7 million
Landscape activities engage 13 communities in Bantaeng Regency, a lush slope at the southern tip of South Sulawesi. Bantaeng’s poorer upstream communities are more heavily wooded and abut the Gunung Lampobatang Protection Forest, the last remaining home of an endangered bird called the Lompobatang Flycatcher. These headwaters also support extensive downslope rice fields, cocoa agroforestry, other annual and perennial crops, and coastal fisheries.
Throughout the landscape, cocoa is a common feature that binds together people, food, and nature. Sustainable cocoa practices can simultaneously boost yields and farmer income, increase the conservation value of cocoa farms and the broader landscape, and generate the critical mass of cocoa supply needed to attract major buyers. An economically stable cocoa sector could also stave off pressures to convert cocoa farms, which can be conservation-friendly, to other, more destructive land uses. Smallholder farmers, who grow most of the world’s cocoa, frequently lack investment capital, knowledge of sustainable practices, and suitable farm inputs, and may be skeptical of new methods. Efforts are needed to help cocoa producers overcome those challenges, manage risks around water stewardship, and respond to market demands for more sustainable production practices.
Rainforest Alliance works with its local partners to design training programs and forge market linkages that are not only profitable for farmers, but also strongly advance the two issues at the heart of our mission: biodiversity conservation and sustainable livelihoods. This same set of indicators is then tracked over time to understand how Rainforest Alliance-supported cocoa production affects social, economic, and environmental outcomes. Can we turn the global boom-bust cocoa cycle into a permanent boom for farmers, traders, consumers, and biodiversity? The Rainforest Alliance believes that better local information—used in service of a farmer- and market-focused sustainable development strategy—is one important step on the path to success.Jeffrey Milder Chief Scientist, Rainforest Alliance
Since 2012, Rainforest Alliance and other partners have worked to help farmers in South Sulawesi clear the barriers to best practice by providing training on the practices defined in the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard. The standard includes sustainable agronomic methods that improve productivity and yield alongside measures to protect biodiversity, water and soil. It also requires practices and investments that improve health, income, and wellbeing for farmers and their families. Farmers and producer groups complying with the standard may sell their cocoa as Rainforest Alliance Certified™.
In South Sulawesi, Rainforest Alliance is working to build support for a sustainable landscape that will attract buyers with a reliable supply of certified sustainable cocoa. Activities include they employment of diagnostic and evaluation tools to help identify the regions, communities, and farmers best suited for sustainability initiatives and provision of the most effective training and technical assistance investments for each setting. The methods focus on the pillars of sustainable development (or of an “integrated landscape”): productivity, farm profitability, natural resource sustainability, biodiversity conservation, and household livelihoods.
Project partners include Mars, Rainforest Alliance, Indonesian Coffee and Cocoa Research Institute (ICCRI), Hasanuddin University, Dinas Kahutanan dan Perkebunan (Department of Forestry and Agriculture) of Bantaeng, and Balang (Sahabat Alam Bantaeng – “Bantaeng Nature’s Best Friend,” a local environmental NGO).
Partner activities have included a community mapping process to establish farm boundaries and identify community needs and concerns. Farmer surveys also provide detailed insight into existing cocoa farming and land management practices, as well as key priorities for win-win improvements. Additionally, the coalition supports a “Household Economy Approach” that quantifies household assets, income streams, crop production, and food consumption to understand the drivers of poverty and vulnerability, data that clarify the opportunities and risks associated with cocoa intensification and provide sensitive indicators of changing livelihoods. Finally, the “Natural Ecosystem Assessment” surveys on-farm vegetation and the surrounding land-use context to provide a fine-scaled, sensitive set of proxy indicators of the landscape’s biodiversity value. Taken together, these methods shed light on the key factors required for landscape sustainability. Partners then engage in certification and extension activities based on insights from these evaluation tools.
To learn more about the project, please visit the Rainforest Alliance website.