“Looking after cocoa trees is like looking after a girlfriend,” titters Jarwanto, a cocoa farmer in Lampung, South Sumatra. He picks at a leaf growing from one of his cocoa trees growing on the gentle slopes of his plantation located in the village of Tanjung Rejo, and a jocular grin slowly cracking across his face. “You have to look after it,” he continues, “or it won't look after you.”

Jarwanto has always wanted to be a farmer growing up. He has been planting cocoa for the past 20 years, in addition to other crops like pepper, chilli, and nutmeg. As a cocoa farmer in Indonesia, he contributes to some of the country's 400,000 tonne output of cocoa beans, making the archipelagic nation the third largest producer in the world after the Ivory Coast and Ghana. Despite this, there are many issues that keep even more farmers from farming cocoa trees (theobroma cacao), including poor understanding on how to properly manage plantations and fight diseases.

In addition to disease, another issue plaguing the Indonesian cocoa sector low quality and lack of added value: despite being the world's third-largest producer of cocoa, the quality of Indonesian beans cannot compete with beans from other cocoa-producing countries. Indonesian farmers are not well-educated in the cocoa fermentation process, which results in poor tasting unfermented beans.

This is where Krakakoa steps in: as a craft “famer-to-bar” chocolate company founded with a mission to improve the livelihood of Indonesian cocoa farmers and the sustainability of cocoa farming, Krakakoa engages with smallholder cocoa farmers directly to increase the quantity and quality of their harvest.

In partnership with SwissContact, Krakakoa has provided training to about 1000 farmers living in the sensitive border areas around national parks in Lampung, Sumatra and in West Sulawesi. Farmers are trained in organic farming techniques, disease management, fermentation, and conservation. Farmers are also equipped with the tools they need to farm and process their cocoa. Select high-quality fermented beans are purchased directly from the farmer at a steady of up to IDR 60,000/kg, giving the farmer price security and an increased incentive to actively improve the quality of their cocoa beans and prevent illegal encroachment into national parks.

Jarwanto is just one of the many farmers whose standard of living has improved since joining the Kakakoa program. By improving the condition of his farm, and selling his cocoa to Krakakoa at a premium price, he has been able to provide better for his family and has made new friends and connections in the process. When asked if he knows that Indonesia is the third largest producer of cocoa in the world, he shakes his head. “No, I didn't know that,” he says with a smile. “That makes me proud. And it motivates me to do better!”

Now armed him with the new knowledge and tools he needs to meet the ever-increasing global demand for high-quality cocoa, Jarwanto and the other graduates of the Krakakoa farming family can do so.