Living and growing up in the middle of the cocoa farmers family, making this man really falls in love with this commodities. Since he was a kid, he has been doing various his family cocoa plantation works. It’s all done not just to meet the needs of everyday life, but also because of his love with all the activities related to cocoa, which shaped him into a hard worker.

Asmawi, born in, Soppeng, South Sulawesi, has been introduced to hard work and conscientious. The cocoa plantations that attract his attention have also become one of the factors why Asmawi can be like these days. “Since I was a kid, I have liked and wanted to be a cocoa farmer. There is a satisfaction when cocoa plants produce a good product,” he explained in starting conversation with Cokelat  recently at his home in Takalala, Labessi village, Marioriwawo subdistrict, Soppeng Regency, South Sulawesi.

Although having busy time with his family-owned plantation, he was still taking higher education and got a degree in agriculture. It can be predicted, his research at the college was not far from not far cocoa; an analysis of the cocoa supply chain.

Trusted by Director General P2P

Spending almost the entire time struggling with the knowledge and activities in cocoa plantations makes him understand a good cocoa farming. Not only his plantation that can be proud of, but he is also trusted by the Directorate General of P2P to become farmers’ facilitator in the mentoring in Soppeng, especially for post-harvest processes.

In particular, he assists 15 farmer groups in the process of sorting, picking fruits and how to pack them, breaking the fruits, sorting beans, and fermentation until the beans marketing. One thing that draws his attention in particular is fermentation. This process that will be required of Government is still lacking done. In Soppeng, based on his opinion, fermentation is just carried out around ten percent. The number is quite small. In fact, if it is viewed from his experience during this time, Asmawi believes that fermentation is a simple enough process, but able to give big advantages to cocoa farmers. He further explains that fermentation can be done thoroughly by all farmers, because the technology is pretty easy to implement. Yet, fermentation takes up to about 7 days, where it means farmers will have to postpone its sale time. This became one of the constraints, where farmers want to get cash instantly and rapidly.

Another obstacle is the fermentation beans’ price which taken insignificantly difference by farmers the non fermentation beans. He observes, farmers tend to count on a small scale, where the difference of fermented beans is only about a thousand to two thousand rupiah each kilo with non-fermentation. But if it is calculated by the large scale, it’s worth quite significant. For a ton, it can be different one till two million for fermented beans. Additional values can be used for the needs of farmer plantations, for example for the improvement of the quality of the soil. Farmers can use his money completely out-side of it for other purposes, e.g. for children’s school fees.

This fermentation was done by almost all farmer groups that he mentored. That time, “Fermentation Movement” was running, where the farmers had even set up the fermentation equipment such as fermentation boxes by themselves, without any help from the Government. Unfortunately, there was a decrease in purchase price of fermented beans by traders and industry that made farmers discouraged to keep doing it.

Now, he and other mentors are struggling to restore and encourage a spirit of farmers for fermentation. “There is nothing difficult in fermentation. It just needs the accustoming ourselves because it is an additional value for the farmers themselves,” he added. With the life philosophy of willingness to help others and enjoy the process of explaining the new technology to others, Asmawi tries to be good cocoa activist, whether as an Indonesian cocoa farmers and mentor.

(COKELAT Magazine, Edition 03, December – February 2013)