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USAID Launches $8.2 Million Indonesia Coffee and Cacao Agroforestry Project


At the LASCARCOCO project launch event in Indonesia. U.S. Embassy Jakarta press release photo.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is leading a new $8.2 million project designed to improve environmental sustainability, climate resiliency and market access among coffee and cocoa/cacao farmers in rural Indonesia.

The project is called Landscape Approach to Sustainable and Climate Change Resilient Cocoa and Coffee Agroforestry, or LASCARCOCO.

Involving training with approximately 6,500 coffee and cocoa farmers in North Sumatra, South Sulawesi and East Nusa Tenggara, the LASCARCOCO project is in partnership with the Indonesian government, multinational raw ingredients company Ofi (formerly Olam Food Ingredients), Belgium-based international nonprofit Rikolto and United States-based food giant Hershey’s.

The project is specifically designed to promote agroforestry-based crop production in Indonesia. In coffee applications, agroforestry may be loosely defined as a land use system that integrates coffee plants with shrubs and trees, resulting in increased biodiversity, shade cover, soil health and long-term plant health. It is a foil to the kind of monocrop land use systems — involving widespread deforestation and full-sun growth — that are prevalent throughout the global coffee sector.

Indonesia Coffee

“USAID supports Indonesia’s efforts to balance economic growth and conservation,” USAID Indonesia Mission Director Jeff Cohen said in an announcement from the agency today. “This new partnership will encourage cocoa and coffee farmers to adopt sustainable agroforestry practices that increase forest cover and diversify their crops, strengthening their ability to adapt to climate shocks.”

The LASCARCOCO is not to be confused with the Indonesia “Resilient Coffee” initiative launched by USAID earlier this year alongside partners Root Capital and Keurig Dr Pepper.

Whereas the latter project is largely geared towards economic sustainability, particularly among small-scale coffee farmers, LASCARCOCO is designed both to increase farmer yields and conserve some 14,000 hectares of watershed and buffer vegetation by 2025.

The project will tie into Ofi’s/Olam’s Farmer Information System for transparent and traceable supply chain data, while Rikolto will lead the farmer community engagement efforts. Hershey’s has agreed to purchase cocoa butter produced through the project for use in its chocolate products.

“Smallholders are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.  Without the right resources and inputs, they can’t grow enough to earn a living, and the world could face a shortage of the coffee and chocolate we all love,” Ravi Pokhriyal, the president and regional head of Asia Pacific at Ofi, said today. “This new partnership demonstrates how the private and public sectors can unite to address these dual challenges.”

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