Cocoa has been the main income source for over half a million smallholders in Sulawesi, Indonesia. With the increasing need for cocoa worldwide, opportunities and challenges are facing the industry. Aimed at improving cocoa farmers’ lives as well as cultivating the next generation’s interests in cocoa, Mars Chocolate recently held a Cocoa Agri-business contest at vocational schools in Luwu, North Luwu and East Luwu, which are known as the third largest cocoa producer communities in the Sulawesi region of Indonesia. Students were given the challenge to create a business plan that is profitable, sustainable and addresses the cocoa farmers’ needs.
The contest was launched in December 2012 and was supported by the local department of education in those three counties. Up to 20 proposals were received for the first round selection, covering the topics of farmer training, plant breeding, waste management, and agricultural tools. Those proposals were assessed against their creativity, business planning and sustainability. Six teams were selected and invited to present at the final round in April 2013.
Nurlaili, Rilwan and Dwi Ramadani from SMK Bone-bone won the first prize, with their proposal of affordable mini paper making machine, which helps farmers to create side income by making paper products from wasted cocoa pods. Compared to traditional cocoa paper machines, the new one proposed by the winning team is more affordable, improves efficiency, helps to provide extra income through the making of cocoa paper and is easier to use to bread the cocoa pods. The second and third prize went to teams from SMK Tomoni, East Luwu
Nurlaili, Rilwan and Dwi Ramadani from SMK Bone-bone won the first prize, with their proposal of affordable mini pod breaker machine, which helps farmers to create side income by selling service of breaking cocoa pods. Compared to traditional pod breaker machines, the new one proposed by the winning team is more affordable, improves efficiency, easier to use to break the cocoa pods and helps to provide extra income through selling services.
As part of Mars’ Sustainable Cocoa Initiative, cocoa farmers were also invited to attend the final selection as audience members. They found that some ideas were very practical and could be adapted to their farming.
During her keynote speech at the final, Sari Nurlan, Corporate Affairs Manager at Mars Symbioscience Indonesia said, “Mars has been promoting cocoa as a curricular to vocational school students since 2007, and the contest today encourages young students to practice what they learned from school, and bring in new solutions to current farming practice. In this way, young people find their passion in cocoa industry, and create business opportunities for themselves, as well as for a wider community.”
“The contest went very well. Mars did a good job in motivating vocational students to explore business opportunities. And it really helped sharpen the students’ business skills,” said Syafei Megaku, who is the Chief of Vocational Agriculture from North Luwu.