KSU (Koperasi Serba Usaha ) Tekat is located in Rajawawo a small village 12 km from the capital of Nangapanda sub-district in Ende Disrict, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) province. This area is one of the biggest cocoa production area in NTT.

The KSU offers services to other farmer like provide training, cocoa entries and seeds. Currently it has 172 members and in 2012 KSU Tekad was able to buy and sell 18 tonnes of dried and fermented cocoa beans, in accordance with SIN standard.

When met with Cokelat editors, Poly, the chairman of the KSU reveals that the cooperatives was formed as initiative of 3 neighboring villages in the sub-district. During the Musrenbang Desa (village planning meeting) the 158 farmers participated in the meeting agreed to form a legal body from their Gapoktan. Since, cocoa is the major commodity in that area, they agreed to form a cooperative for cocoa.

“Together with Bapetam, government and farmer groups, we were working on activities that can increase cocoa production, at least that can help us do better farming. At the end, after we met with Swisscontact, we received a lot of knowledge and skill that made us more confident to form this KSU,” said Poly.

Currently, KSU Tekat have been able to make achievement, because they have gain trust from farmers as well as government to give facilitation and training to farmers in Ende Districts and also neighboring districts.

“Once, we were assisted by MARS and we build communication with them. We get plenty of knowledge from MARS,” said Poly. He also add that when they started the activity in 2007-2008, they were a Gapoktan (collective farmer groups), and they focused on improving their farming practices. After the quality of their cocoa improved, they started to look for market for their cocoa. MARS gave them a break through by giving them trust to collect beans from the farmers and made their location as MARS buying point. Poly admit that MARS’s innovation have helped them in selling their production because in one harvest cycle the production in their areas can reached 20 tonnes.

From the experience working with MARS, they were convinced that they can make a KSU. “We have to move forward with the experience that we got so that we can help farmers market their cocoa. We can learn while we run the coop,” said Agus, one of the KSU manager. ”Everything is for KSU now, how to make it big and successful. We, the managers, don’t get paid. Everything that we earned from giving services to farmers or government we give back to KSU cash. We don’t mind, as long as this KSU can grow,” he added, followed with nods from his other colleagues.

“With 13 people as KSU managers, I believe that KSU Tekat will grow. At this moment we have served  279 farmer groups as our member after just two years of operation,” Poly explained further.

According to Poly, farmers in this area have felt the benefit where they have been able to increase the quality of the cocoa beans significantly that have give them better selling price. Moreover, trainings provided by KSU not only related to farming practices but also new technologies. “In 2012, almost all KSU members have received trainings and most recently we received training on fermentation from Comextra,” said Poly.

What have made them proud was because KSU have power to determined price which is higher than the price offered by local traders, moreover it is supported with good quality beans. “KSU price is higher than trader’s price because we know how to calculate the price and we sell directly to the exporters without middle-men. During harvest season, collectors flocked the village and we can compete with them. In fact, some of the collectors sold their beans to us. We can achieve this with the support from our partners like Swisscontact, MARS, etc,” said Poly.

They hope, in the future, CSP can help link them with buyers and provide them with information especially information on training and technologies in cocoa. “We really need exporters like Comextra and before that MARS to open buying station in Flores so that our cocoa price is not manipulated by local traders,” added Agus.

(COKELAT Magazine, Edition 04, March – May 2013)