The IFAD-supported investment project Smallholder Livelihood Development Project (SOLID) and the IFAD and EU-funded Food Resilience Through Root and Tuber Crops in Upland and Coastal Communities of the Asia-Pacific (FoodSTART+) successfully conducted the business launches of micro-enterprises established by farmer groups enrolled in the Farmer Business School (FBS). FBS is a value chain development approach that the Indonesian Food Security Agency (DINAS) adopted in the implementation of SOLID in Maluku and Maluku Utara provinces with the assistance of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the International Potato Center (CIP). The first business launch of five (5) FBS groups was held on 28 October 2018 in Merdeka Square in Labuha, Halmahera Selatan (HalSel), Maluku Utara. The second with four (4) FBS groups from SOLID Seram Bagian Timur (SBT) was conducted on 26 November 2018 in the Office of the Mayor in Bula, SBT, Maluku. The business launches showcased the various products developed by the FBS groups from cassava, sweetpotato and other crops. In SOLID HalSel, the products included cassava flour, cassava flour with banana rhizome egg rolls, cassava balls, cassava biscuits, cassava chips, cassava fish crackers, cassava shoestrings, cassava anchovy crackers, and others such as tortilla corn flakes, and banana peel crackers. In SOLID SBT, the FBS products included sweetpotato flour, cake/food products made from this flour, fresh sweeetpotato, gepe grated compressed cassava, enbal dried gepe cake, cassava flour, kori, sweetpotato chips and fish cassava crackers.
The FBS aims to train the farmer groups to develop their small enterprises by teaching them basic business skills, including marketing concepts, identifying and prioritizing market opportunities, product development, and business planning. The FBS has seven (7) modules, divided into 25 sessions which normally runs for eight (8) months (from March to October 2018 in HalSel and April to November in SBT).
The business launch also served as the final event for the nine (9) groups now completing the FBS, namely, KWT Bina Desa, Kuntum Mekar, Fo Maku Motenyinga, Lentera Hati and Sumae Mandiri in SOLID HalSel; and May Lo, Watukaf, Watu Lololi, and Tiga K in SOLID SBT.
In SOLID HalSel, the business launch was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by Dr. Sofyan Bachmid, Head of Department of Agriculture and Food Security Agency in HalSel, with Dr. Christopher Wheatley, Marketing Specialist of CIP-FoodSTART+, Ms. Arma Bertuso, Senior Research Associate of CIP-FoodSTART+, and Ms. Haryanti Koostanto, Research Associate of CIAT-FoodSTART+, and the representatives of the five (5) FBS groups. In SOLID SBT, the ribbon cutting ceremony was led by Mr. Fachri Husni Alkatiri, Vice Mayor of SBT with Mrs. Mirna Darlene, Head of Department of Agriculture and Food Security Agency in SBT, Ms. Arma Bertuso, Senior Research Associate of CIP-FoodSTART+, and Ms. Haryanti Koostanto, Research Associate of CIAT-FoodSTART+, and the representatives of the four (4) FBS groups.
Guests, participants and consumers were able to see, taste and buy the different FBS products in the exhibits. They were requested to comment and provide feedback to help FBS groups improve their products. Some feedbacks received mentioned that the FBS products were delicious, have good packaging and are sold for a reasonable price. Some suggestions for improvement pertain to taste (salt and spicy) for specific products.
Besides showcasing their products, one of the highlights of the business launch is the business pitch prepared by male and female FBS enrollees as part of their capacity building to promote their products to consumers, and as start to promote to a larger consumer market in the future. The 2-minute business pitch highlighted the products and their benefits, and where to buy them.
In SOLID HalSel, a panel discussion with participation from DINAS (Dr. Sofian) and local bank staff was conducted to discuss possible business development support services that they can provide to the groups, including loans for business sustainability and expansion.
FBS was first developed in Indonesia by the International Potato Center through an initiative funded by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) in 2008. Since 2011, this approach has been adopted and scaled-up in Indonesia, India, and the Philippines through the FoodSTART and FoodSTART+ projects.
Written by: Arma R. Bertuso (CIP-FoodSTART+), Haryanti Koostanto (CIAT-FoodSTART+) and Chris Wheatley (CIP-FoodSTART+).
Photo credits: Arma Bertuso (CIP-FoodSTART+), Chris Wheatley, SOLID HalSel and SOLID SBT