The Roots of Indonesian Cacao

Over the years, chocolate has become one of the most favorite delicacies across the globe. The cacao tree, as the main source of cacao beans, became a sought-after crop and hence, cultivated in different regions, particularly in the countries near the equator including Indonesia.

Indonesian cocoa beans are classified into three categories: Criollo, Forastero, and Trinitario.

  • Criollo – Recognized as the highest quality cocoa bean in the world, though it yields lower compared to other cocoa bean types.
  • Forastero – The most commonly used variety of cocoa, making up 90% of the world’s production.
  • Trinitario – Known as the finest cocoa hybrid in the world. Trinitario cocoa comes in many different varieties, highlighting a good basal cocoa flavor with a hint of fruity or floral taste.

Indonesia’s Cocoa Production

In Indonesia, the cocoa tree is one of the most valuable agricultural export products. The past 25 years have brought massive growth in the Indonesian cocoa industry, thanks to the participation of smallholder farmers all throughout the country. These farmers have a huge share over national cocoa production, outdoing even large plantations and private estates. At present, the country’s cocoa plantation measures roughly 1.5 million hectares in total.

Most of Indonesia’s cocoa plantations can be found in:

  • Sulawesi
  • North Sumatra
  • East Kalimantan
  • Papua
  • West Java

The highest cocoa-producing region by far is Sulawesi, which makes up 75% of Indonesia’s countrywide production.


Indonesia’s Efforts to Boost Cocoa Production

In 2009, Indonesia dealt with slow progress in the cocoa production industry.  Some of the major causes include aging of cocoa trees, little farm maintenance, and outdated and insufficient planting materials.

This is when the government launched a 5-year cocoa rehabilitation program, which covered a total of 450 thousand hectares of cocoa plantations. In the past few years, Indonesia has managed to make a mark in the industry. With a little bit more investment, the government aims to reach their target production goal of one million tons per year.

Cocoa Export

Cocoa garners the 4th spot in Indonesia largest foreign exchange income from agriculture (other top products are rubber, coconut, and palm oil). But most of the time, raw beans are exported rather than processed cocoa.

Top countries that import Indonesia cocoa beans include the United States, Singapore, and Malaysia.

From 2010-2013, the country has produced and exported a total of 575,000 tons of cocoa.

The Future of Indonesian Cocoa

According to the World Cocoa Foundation, the demand for cocoa increases by 3% every year. This is great news for Indonesia, considering that it has become one of the largest producers and exporters of the world. As long as the large quantity cocoa production continues, the country will be able to maintain its primary competitiveness.

In addition, support must be given sufficiently to smallholder farmers, who contribute 90% of Indonesia’s nationwide cocoa production. With proper guidance and assistance, farmers might be able to yield huge quantities consistently, knowing that they’re ready to face all sorts of crop issues including aging of trees, spreading of diseases and so on.