In 12 African countries Agri-ProFocus has established successful networks for the promotion of farmer entrepreneurship. Based on the success of these so-called Agri-Hubs a core group of members (notably HIVOS, CORDAID and ICCO) took the initiative to explore the possibilities of setting up an Agri-Hub in Indonesia.
Angelica Senders of Fair & Sustainable Advisory Services and Miranda, Programme Officer of the Green Entrepreneurship Program of HIVOS (from its Regional Office South East Asia) interviewed representatives of around 25 organizations (INGOs, Indonesian NGOs, and government agencies) to test the waters for an Indonesian Agri-Hub; what are trends in Indonesian agriculture and what are the cross-cutting issues and bottlenecks that hinder or encourage farmer entrepreneurship and is their enough common ground for network development?
The Indonesian economy has a growth rate of 6.3%, but distribution of economic benefits has been skewed, benefitting a few, and imbalances between Western and Eastern Indonesia are great. Poverty and malnutrition is high and an effective support system for farmers is lacking, hindering farmers to cultivate nutritious and greater value adding crops (e.g. soybean, coconut, fruits, and horticulture).
The organizations visited are active in a large variety of sub sectors, ranging from palm oil to palm sugar and from fishery to pigs. They work in different areas all over the Indonesia archipelago. There are many commonalities in their way of working. They all focus on small holder agriculture (incl. fishery and forestry) and support farmer entrepreneurship. The value chain approach is commonly applied and cooperation with the private sector is a strategy widely accepted, but also experienced as a challenge; how to ensure real win-wins from business deals?
From the interviews it became clear that there is potential for an Agri-Hub Indonesia
- Coordination and network development: This Agri-Hub concept comes very timely. NGOS in Indonesia have a history in advocacy and strengthening of farmer groups, dealing with markets is relatively new for them. Increasingly NGOs realize that farmers need to become entrepreneurs addressing markets for higher value added products in order to be able to earn a living if they want to live from their small plots.
- Business and partnership brokering: Farmer entrepreneurship development is on the agenda of development organizations. Cooperation with the private sector fits in this agenda: farmers want to work with companies; companies are in need of supply from farmers and famers need loans from banks. An Agri- Hub could be of help in matchmaking between these parties.
- Facilitation of innovation communities: The Agri-Hub should deal with cross- cutting and process related topics faced in gender sensitive and inclusive value chain development in general and farmer entrepreneurship in particular disregards the sector in which this takes place.
- Platform and network for debate and learning The Agri-Hub concept is very much in line with the attention for food security from the Indonesian government. The Agri-Hub will make lobby easier e.g. on food security related issues or on issues related to certification.
As a result of the Inception mission, the discussion on the Agri-Hub Indonesia has moved from the ‘If’ to the ‘how’ of the Agri-Hub. HIVOS has committed to hosting the Agri-Hub. Currently HIVOS is in the process of recruiting a coordinator for the Agri-Hub and an online platform has been established. On this platform you can find the Inception Mission Report.