Anton Muhajir, Contributor, Denpasar | Sun, 10/19/2008 1:34 PM | Bali
Indonesian farmers do not pay enough attention to organic and fair trade certification aimed at increasing agricultural exports, Indro Surono of PT Biocert, a certification institution for agricultural products in Denpasar, said.
Speaking at a seminar on “Social and Fairtrade: Toward Responsible and Fair Business in Agriculture”in Denpasar last week, Indro said less than 1,200 farmers in Indonesia hold organic and fair trade product certifications.
This number is quite small compared to an estimated 100 million farmers, or about half of Indonesia’s population, Indro said at the seminar attended by farmers, students, agricultural company representatives, NGO activists and employees of the agriculture office.
“So the number of farmers who care about the certificaiton problem is still small,” Indro, who is also an Indonesian representative of the Institute for Marketecology (IMO) from Switzerland, said.
The lack of certifications increased the costs farmers must bear to have their produce certified, he said. One certification, for example, can cost up to Rp 40 million (US$4,200) per year, he said.
In order to reduce costs, however, farmers can adopt a special internal control system, acting in groups as assessors on the quality of their agricultural produce, he said.
Indro reminded that certification is important to help increase the price of products, especially for exports like coffee, cacao and cashew nuts.
In many cases Indonesian exports cannot compete with other countries because Indonesia has not met the standards of destination countries, he said.
“Certification of organic products and far trade means our commodities are likely to be accepted by the international market because consumers increasingly care about issues of sustaintability and environmental preservation,” Indro said.
A group of cashew nut farmers from Kubu, Karangasem, were recently certified by IMO. Up to 400 farmers, who make five groups of subak abian (Balinese agricultural tradition), have been certified since 2006.
Kubu district, along with Serrit and Geokgak in Nuleleng, has become one of the major cashew nut production centers in Bali, Dewa Made Sutamba Wijaya, head of the harvest, post-harvest and processing at the Bali Plantation Office, said.
Aside from cashew nuts, Bali’s agricultural export commodities include robusta and arabica coffee, cacao, vanilla and coconuts,Wijaya said.
Wijaya said certification was important for Bali’s agricultural exports because it was based on three major point, transparency, participation and nondiscrimination.
“Transparency enables both farmers and consumers to obtain clear information on the agricultural products being traded,”Wijaya said.
Participation means producers are actively involved in setting the prices without sacrificing the interests of farmers, he said.
Article published at http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/10/19/farmers-still-neglect-organic-fair-trade-certifications.html