Empowering women in cocoa-growing communities can have enormous benefits for their families and the local economy. This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating the female cocoa farmers we work with worldwide, like Ibu Doris in Indonesia, who has set up her own thriving business to help farmers in her community improve their yields and incomes.
In Indonesia’s South Sulawesi Province, farmers have long relied on cocoa crops as their only income source. Women often work on their husbands’ cocoa farms, but ageing cocoa trees have led to declining productivity, hitting farmer incomes and making it hard to support their families fully. That’s why we are helping over 8,000 women in Indonesia run their own small businesses, including nurseries that grow and sell cocoa seedlings to replace old crops.
Take mother-of-three Ibu Doris. She worked on her husband’s one-hectare cocoa farm, but she struggled to send her children to school without other income sources. Olam Cocoa’s nursery management programme taught her to grow and sell cocoa seedlings and set up a nursery with a 5,000-seedling capacity. Our field staff helped her find a customer base, and soon, her seedlings were amongst the best in the area, with a survival rate of over 95%.
After two years of training, Ibu Doris began passing on her knowledge, organising more farmers' training sessions. And as word of her seedlings continued to spread, she began recruiting other women in her village to help her keep up with demand. Ibu Doris now employs ten workers in her nursery, all of whom are women. Each worker receives around IDR 120,000 (~USD9) a day, almost 20% more than she could expect to earn on her husband’s farm.
The success of Ibu Doris’s business meant she could send all her children to school and pay for her oldest child to study for a degree in management at the Sarjana Management College in Palopo. She has also improved her family's living conditions, who previously owned a semi-permanent house and had no means of transport. Now, they have a secure home and two motorbikes that mean they no longer need to walk to work.
We want to empower more women like Ibu Doris. Women who are not only finding ways to support themselves and their families but are also creating employment opportunities in their communities and helping to improve the livelihoods of women in cocoa the world over.