Support for smallholder farmers in Indonesia

Smallholder tea growers in Indonesia received support from Unilever, the sustainable trade initiative, IDH, and the Rainforest Alliance (RA) to improve farming, water, waste and hygiene practices with a view to gaining RA certification. While they were not yet ready to become fully certified, they nonetheless took substantial steps towards sustainability on their farms.

The project was led by a collaboration between IDH, Unilever and Rainforest Alliance between 2009 and 2013. We provided training to smallholders to in four countries, including Indonesia, to help them secure RA certification.

Our aim was to improve the long-term economic, environmental and social sustainability of these farms, as well as strengthening their capacity to access mainstream export markets.

The project in Indonesia took a small group of smallholders supplying PT Chakra, the first tea estate to gain RA certification in Indonesia. Unfortunately, the project did not result in certification because the group of farmers needed much more support from the factory. However, the training did result in the adoption of more sustainable practices on the farms.

The project aimed to help these smallholder farmers achieve Rainforest Alliance certification. The criteria entailed meeting standards on water, sanitation and hygiene, such as wastewater management, the provision of toilets and the use of protective equipment for anyone handling pesticides. The training led to the smallholders making changes on their farms.

The training programme also covered good agricultural practices, particularly in managing the use of pesticides and fertilisers, improving the management of soil, with lower levels of herbicide and the use of compost) and in-filling of gaps in the tea supply chain. Improvement in these practices led to better quality and yields.

A poster summarising practices was created, and a training video produced.