Work visit | 1/2020

Dot the I’s

Working visit Pacific SpiZes | January 2020

The intention of the working visit was to visit the nutmeg farmers on Banda and the farmers on Ambon with the associated RFA program. Because the transport (by boat and plane) to and from Banda in the month of January is nil, we could not arrange this within these 10 days. In hindsight, we could not have planned the appointments listed below when visiting Banda. If we look back on this, we certainly do not regret it. Perhaps it should have been! Banda will still be visited soon.

Day 1 | Visit: various nutmeg farmers Ambon

A turnout of about 40 RFA farmers in one of the villages. After arrival, many farmers were waiting for us to shake hands. We noticed that there were old but also many young farmers present. The fact that young farmers were also present made us happy, because they are the future. Among the 40 farmers, 4 young women were also present.

The secretary of the village chief (Kepala Desa) took the floor and explained what we are coming to do and what the planned plans are for the future. This was well received, especially after Rico also addressed the farmers personally about the vision and mission of Pacific SpiZes. After these introductions and the explanation regarding our I-MVO policy, we went to visit 2 plantations. In our eyes, the plantations looked neat and well cared for and gave us a good impression.

We were also received warmly in another village on Ambon. What surprised us was that, unlike the previous village, there were also farmers who are not yet participating in the RainForest Alliance (“RFA”) program. The number of farmers present consisted of approximately 60 farmers, again young and old together and 5 women. After we were introduced by one of the spokespersons for the cooperative, Rico took the floor to clarify what we stand for. In this speech, the 10 points concerning our I-MVO policy were again mentioned. After the closing words of Uncle Frans, another 20 farmers registered on the spot who want to participate in the RFA program. In short, a good day and another step closer to our mission and vision!

Day 2 | Visit: Body for the protection of nature and biodiversity

After the introductory meeting and the proposal round, the head of the program takes the floor and talks about the program and the associated Bio certification. This organization manages the Bio organic (EU / SNI) certification on Ambon and Banda for the nutmeg and also issues the certificates for this. The total production capacity at the moment is more than 52 tons produced by 22 groups of farmers.

PS indicates that there has been cheating in the recent past by mixing Banda's Bio nutmeg with conventional nutmeg from mainly Ceram. The head of the agency is aware that the numbers of Bio organic nutmeg have been tampered with in the recent past. The socialization process in which more explanations have been given to the farmers as well as the explanation of the consequences and sanctions on them must completely ban these practices. Post-harvesting handling is the spearhead of this. The Kecamatan from Banda (head of Banda) has already indicated that he will guarantee and wants to sign that the Bio organic and conventional nutmeg supplied is actually Banda original. He does not like these practices and will ensure that this does not happen in the future. Cross-checks will also be carried out by the cooperative. They will visit several farmers unannounced to check. The resulting data can be viewed by Pacific SpiZes at any time in order to conduct Due Diligence. After all, as PS also stated in the conversation, this manner of action does not testify to “Fair trade”.

Day 3 | Visit the Ministry of Agriculture Moluccas

This day we were received at the office of the secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture (Ambon). After the round of proposals, we discussed extensively our mission and vision regarding the Moluccan nutmeg farmers.

We have indicated that we hope the Governor can help us make our mission and vision a reality. Due to his status and powers, he has the ability to play an important role in this for both the cooperative and Pacific SpiZes. The secretary indicated that he wants to fully support us and help us where necessary. After the canonization of Rico, we also said that we want to pick up the cocoa and coconut in addition to the nutmeg. They also want to fully support us in this. The secretary has indicated that various projects are already running on a small scale and that we may be able to use them. He indicated that there is a cocoa factory on Seram that we can visit if interested. After the meeting it turned out that it is a very large Olam factory. Olam made a substantial investment of US $ 60 million 4 years ago to realize a cocoa factory. PS and the cooperative have decided to take a closer look at whether there are still unexplored regions (and there are!). During the conversation we also discussed the way of fermentation because it is very different from the normal way. This was known and the secretary indicated that this is also part of the ongoing projects. We are hopeful that the agreements made will be realized in due course.

Day 4 | Visit: Pelindo - Warehouse - Ambon harbor

Today we looked at the possible solution for a new warehouse, owned by Pelindo (Indonesia's largest carrier), in the port of Ambon. The storage space is still cluttered but can be a very suitable location after renovation, partly due to the fact that it is very conveniently located on a guarded site and directly by the sea.

Commitments have already been made by two investors from Jakarta and a government bank to provide financing to the cooperative. This will be supported by the local government in the capacity of the governor who wishes to issue a positive recommendation to the bank regarding this project. After all, it is the President's own wish to strongly stimulate exports and hopefully this can work to our advantage. Furthermore, the forecast is that Ambon will be Indonesia's third export port by the end of 2020. PS also intends to lease part of the warehouse in the long term in order to maintain an iron stock of at least two mixed containers in the name of PS.

Day 5 | Visit: Governor of the Moluccas Murad Ismail

After a long wait, our patience was finally rewarded. We were allowed to visit the Governor of the Moluccas. Initially, the introductory talk with the secretary of the governor took place, but after the usual proposal round and the explanation of our mission, the governor himself came to talk to us. Once again, we received the trumpet and also the confirmation that we are getting the full support we need. After all, one of the spearheads of the governor is that poverty alleviation is high on his agenda. Afterwards we had a picture with the governor and he thanked us for our patience, presence and our efforts so far.

Day 6 | Visit: Cocoa and coconut plantation

After a long drive we reached a village on the northern part of Ambon. Here and there some questions and luckily the right person was found quickly. It was sad to see how this family tries to survive every day. The farmer in question took us to the plantation for a tour. It soon became apparent that not only cocoa was grown, but nutmeg and coconut also appeared to grow in abundance. According to Pak Udin, the different trees were a little too close together in some places, so that the harvest would be slightly less in volume. The total capacity of the cocoa per harvest is approximately 10,000 kg. The fermentation process does not go here as usual. The cocoa pulp is placed in jute bags, after which it is placed in a kind of covered pit for 4 days. After drinking some fresh coconut water, we went home again. In the car we talked about the living conditions of this family, which shows that our vision and mission is not in vain and it has given us even more energy and perseverance.

Day 7 | Visit: Kepala Balai Karantina Ambon

Our last visit was all about transport and food safety at Karantina, comparable to the NVWA in the Netherlands. The people we met take care of the correct certificates required for the export of the container. This includes a health certificate. The people we have spoken want to cooperate fully and have promised to ensure that everything is taken care of down to the last detail. As Ambon will become the third export port of Indonesia, the employees of Karantina Surabaya (2nd export port of Indonesia) are already transferring knowledge to her colleagues from Karantina Ambon regarding export procedures and protocols.