Food and Agriculture Research 2014-2018

The Food and Agriculture Cluster’s work was highlighted by the groundbreaking project ‘Sustainability and profitability of cocoa-based farming in Sulawesi’. Researchers from Universitas Hasanuddin, the University of Sydney and Institut Pertanian Bogor took interdisciplinary research to a new level, ultimately providing many lessons in research practice on top of their core findings. 

Declining cocoa productivity is of major concern in Indonesia, and this project set out to identify some of the causes of that decline. It concluded that the health and financial literacy of farmers were key factors in increasing sustainability and profitability. Researchers promoted the benefits of becoming certified producers to farmers and local advocacy groups, and ran a tasting session that showcased and explained the different flavours of chocolate produced by cocoa from around the world. They also made a series of recommendations aimed at reversing declining production and improving farmers’ livelihoods.

Other projects undertaken by the cluster explored the risks and opportunities for Indonesia’s increasingly important food-processing industry, looked at innovative ways to combine soil data and socioeconomic information to improve land-use decisions, and examined the numerous challenges facing fishing communities on some of Indonesia’s small islands.

Key achievements

  • Three stakeholder workshops were held in Sulawesi, and all received positive feedback on the use of integrated, multidisciplinary approaches to finding solutions. Stakeholders from the district government’s health and agricultural sectors, the cocoa industry, farmer organisations, senior vets and university academics attended the workshops. A new integrated approach to address farmers’ livelihood concerns was developed. 
  • AIC project members presented in the general assembly meetings of the Cocoa Sustainability Partnership (CSP), the foremost forum for the cocoa industry in Indonesia, which raised further CSP interest in the project.
  • Swiss Contact have expressed interest in using AIC project results to inform their program development. UTZ certified have also instigated a study on gender roles, and the consultant has requested information produced on gender in the AIC project. Data from the project accessible through the CSP contributed to developing programs concerned with community livelihood.
  • Discussion of the project’s research findings has raised awareness with the Directorate General of Plantations at the Indonesian Ministry of Agriculture. Strategies to raise cocoa productivity have become a major topic for discussion within this Ministry.
  • David Guest, through his participation on the Mars Chocolate Research Advisory Board, has briefed the industry on constraints and options for cocoa production in Indonesia. As a result, a Mars Chocolate delegation visited the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research in June 2018 to discuss co-funding research in Indonesia. 
  • Mapping soil and socioeconomic data to drive better decisions on land-use and improve food security across Indonesia.
  • In-depth research on the challenges facing Indonesia’s small-island fishing communities, which are dealing with the impacts of falling fish stocks, along with numerous environmental, social and economic changes.
  • Recommendations on the strengthening and expanding the Indonesian food-processing industry, a significant and growing contributor to the Indonesian economy.