After the acquisition in 2001, Kecap Bango had accelerated its market expansion in Indonesia. Unilever Indonesia (ULI) consequently required to source quality black soybeans and coconut sugar in a large amount. Beyond, Unilever globally is committed to sustainability in all aspects of the business. This makes Unilever should ensure that the company supply raw agricultural material from sustainable sources as well as improving the livelihood of smallholder farmers.
As for the black soybean sourcing, ULI in collaboration with Unilever Indonesia Foundation (UIF) hence decided to develop new suppliers among the farmers in Java, and collaborated with Gadjah Mada University (UGM), which had the expertise in agriculture to develop the farmers. The cooperation led to the discovery of a new variety of black soybeans named “Mallika”. The partnership had grown to a three ways of collaboration among ULI, UIF, UGM, and the cooperatives of farmers. UGM offers agricultural knowledge and expertise, the farmers have the land and grow the black soybean crop, and ULI provides capital, access to market, and guaranteed price.
The same treatment is also applied to coconut sugar. As a main ingredient of Kecap Bango soy sauce, maintaining a high quality of coconut sugar supply is crucial for Unilever’s operation and business. Approximately 85% of coconut sugar supplied by local farmers in Pangandaran, Sukabumi and Lampung. Therefore, we take on responsibility to help local coconut sugar farmers in meeting our material quality standards and improving the yield of their plantations.
In 2013 and 2014, workshop session on maintaining product quality of coconut sugar were routinely carried out. Unilever Indonesia provided multimedia and booklets as supporting materials for these workshops. Furthermore, a fertilization programme was conducted to help increase the production yield. As a result, this programme managed to increase production yield from 0.3 kg of sugar per tree per day to 0.4 kg of sugar per tree per day.
Throughout the Enhancing Livelihood programs, UIF have been engaging organizations to facilitate the farmers’ empowerment program, namely:
It is ULI’s commitment to empower our partners through educational activity. In the Farmers’ Field School, the selected farmers discuss topics regarding cultivation, management, and research. In the process, they had received supports to analyze problems to solve the problems together and practice the solutions in their field. Recently, UIF focuses on the Farmers’ School Alumni development program to ensure the sustainability of the program.
Training on Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code (USAC)
Unilever has developed the Unilever Sustainable Agriculture Code (USAC) as the definition of Sustainable Agriculture. It covers practices that all our suppliers should strive to adhere. In Indonesia, ULI have implemented the USAC for black soya bean plantations. USAC is a guideline to achieve one of the goals of Unilever Indonesia: to source 100% of our agricultural raw materials from sustainable sources by 2020. The program started in 2013 by introducing the concept of USAC.
Women Farmers Empowerment Program (TUTUR)
UIF develops a program that encourages the women (who had been involved in post harvesting task as the black soybean sorters) to have the confidence to appear in public, with the simple rationale that women who have the courage to express themselves will be more powerful in fighting for herself and her family. In the process, the program provides an access for women in several areas to increase their household income. The women also receives training on health and hygiene as well was waste bank trainings.
In addition, producing traditional snacks and establishing a minimart are two activities conducted by the groups. To ensure that this activity is impactful, UIF through its partners facilitate the women groups to display their products and participate in many occasions in their area.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wiGOcc1RRNA
(1) The field assistants regularly visit the farmers and provide technical monitoring in the field.
(2) The Supply Management team in collaboration with Unilever Indonesia Foundation closely monitor the after-tapping process.
(3) Establishing Unilever Warung is one the main activities in Women Farmers Empowerment Program.