At the time of publication of this story, Rikolto was still called VECO.
In the week of October 8, 2015, VECO Indonesia organised several feedback moments to discuss the results of the story collection using SenseMaker technology in Polman district on Sulawesi island, Indonesia. 517 farmers, farmer leaders, service providers, staff of the farmer organisation and other chain actors had shared earlier this year their experiences regarding the commercial relations between Amanah (the farmer organization) and Mars (the buyer). During that survey, they also interpreted their experiences in light of several key aspects of business inclusivity and sustainability.
The main goal of these feedback sessions was for the chain actors to ‘make sense’ of the patterns that had emerged from this data collection and come up with propositions to improve the commercial relations in the cocoa value chain in Polman district. At the first workshop, over 40 farmers and members of Amanah and Wasiat (the main service provider) eagerly read the stories that had been shared and interpreted them in the light of their day-to-day realities. Farmers showed themselves very understanding of the challenges that Amanah faces as a fairly young organization and came up with several propositions for all chain actors to strengthen the organization and its position in the value chain.
The next day, the VECO team had an in-depth discussion with Amanah and Wasiat, analysing the patterns following a set of variables such as age, gender, sub-district and perceived nature of the business commitments (long-term, short-term or unpredictable). This helped Amanah to better grasp the different aspects of their members’ realities: are prices paid enough to permit new investments? Do farmers have a sales’ commitment to Amanah? Are the benefits of the collaboration with Amanah and Mars worth the effort? What are their main service needs? Amanah will now proceed to incorporate the input from this analysis and the suggestions from the workshop with farmers into its organizational plan and will follow them up with the support of VECO.
Finally, representatives of Amanah and VECO Indonesia met with Mars to discuss the outcome of the SenseMaker survey and look for solutions to improve their relations with Amanah and its farmers. Mars said it was very happy with the results, saying they were ‘remarkable’ and that it is the first time that they get such constructive and measurable feedback from the field. Amanah also handed Mars a story pack that contained all the stories that had been shared and that were to be read by Mars.
Encouraged by these positive results and constructive feedback, a second story collection will take place early 2016 in order to measure the extent to which positive change has taken place and the commercial relations have improved in the cocoa value chain in Polman district.