Empowerment and Community Development

In the beginning of the program, the Certificate Holder, through MDPI, is responsible to conduct a needs assessment, not just based on interviews with fishers but also with representatives of the community. From this needs assessment, it is expected that the Fisher Association will have ideas on what to spend their Premium Fund. Later, Fisher Associations will build their sourcing plan (which is a forecast of their catch for the coming year), estimate how much premium they will get in a year and develop a premium plan where they decide how they will spend their Premium Fund.

The Certificate Holder, representing the consumer, will transfer the total amount to the account of the Fair Trade Committee. Later the Fair Trade Committee may distribute the fund to their associated Fisher Associations, based on the container’s report. The Fisher Associations may access their fund after quorum decision in Fair Trade Committee meeting, when their Premium Plan is approved. The Fisher Association officers prepare the proposals and present it on semi-annual basis as the Fair Trade Committee meetings. Upon implementation of the Premium Plan, the Fisher Association needs to record their expenses and prepare reports for the Fair Trade Committee before they may access additional funds.

Data Productions and Premium Program

Up to March 2017, total production of Fair Trade loins over the years of implementation that was exported:

Fair Trade Committees Exported 2014 (kg)

95 fishers

4 FAs

Exported 2015 (kg)

508 fishers

25 FAs

Exported 2016 (kg)

635 fishers

34 FAs

Assilulu 11,086.00 9,427.20 29,084.52
South Buru 15,857.84 10,595.82
North Buru 26,543.60 83,239.54 133,496.67
South Seram 17,769.90 59,168.05
North Seram 28,875.46
Tolitoli 26,836.47
Grand Total 37,629.60 126,294.48 288,056.99


From the beginning of the program to April 2017, total of premium fund transferred to Fair Trade Committee accounts reaching the total of IDR2,189,750,588.31 (approx. USD168,442). Up to March 2017 disbursements there are 383 proposals has been approved by 6 Fair Trade Committees, totaled to IDR 1,605,814,450.00 (approx. USD123,500). In general, the fund is use for these purposes:

Social and Religious Welfare

Fishers most of the time are considered the bottom chain in the community. It is a joyous experience for Fair Trade registered fishers to be able to donate fund for rehabilitation of religious functions and donor on religious activity in the community. This include rehabilitations of village access to Mosque and landing site which was found to be a challenging during wet seasons.

Fishers community are not used to put insurance into their regular expenses, some of the premium fund were being use as sick fund and grievance contributions to fisher’s family.

Environmental Responsibilities

30% of the premium based on the Fair Trade compliance criteria should be use for environmental and conversations activities. Some of the implemented projects are data collections incentive, including paying wages for the enumerators hired by FAs to record their fishing trips; Endangered, Threaten and Protected Animals campaigns in form of producing t-shirt filled with messages (walking campaign), purchase of environmental books and distribute them to the school, including sessions in classes where the fishers introduce conservations of ETP to the schoolchildren; tree-planting projects; clean beach programs; sea-turtle conservations ponds; garbage collection post in the villages.

Children and Educations

In some village, after school activity for children are learning how to read Al Quran in the Moslem children center in the village. The condition of these children center is sometimes just basic, and not comfortable. Premium fund is being used for renovating the premises.

In the beginning of school year, around July of each year- a lot of expenses for fishers to send their children to school, especially when the children just graduate from lower education (elementary) and get into middle or high school. National School Uniform are changing and they must support all these costs, where most of July is not a good fishing seasons. Starting 2016- the FAs included uniform and supplies into their premium plan to support fisher’s children and some unfortunate children in the village.

In the Fisher Association Premium Plan meeting they will agrees on the number of children, how much assistance will be given to each child. In these meetings, the fishers will also agree conditioned when in the family there are more than 1 child in school age, will all children will be included or only one child per family.

Fisher’s safety

Fishers are not use to think about their safety. They focus on providing foods to the table and do not separate expenses for their safety. Premium fund is being used to purchase life jackets, first aid box in their vessel.

In late 2015, there is bad fogs around Buru islands, some fishers finding trouble to find way back to their village, going home to their family become a priority and taken seriously. Since then the fishers finally agree to spend their premium to purchase GPS, where they may mark their home and coordinate the fishing locations. They may apply the basic navigations knowledge they get from Safety at Sea trainings they have participated.

Quality Improvement Program

Same as GPS, this is not a necessity for the fishers, basically they do not understand the effect of the tools and fish handling process effects the whole chain where their fish is sold. In early 2015 there was a time where 8 tons of fish cannot be exported because it doesn’t passed QC test. Representative of the CTP quality team conduct an inspection trips, meetings with fishers are being held which teaching the fishers and suppliers on fish handling, including tools and maintenance of their premises. Fishers start allocating their premium to buy stainless steel knives, cutting board and boxes.

Electricity in fisher village used to be bad, electricity was not running 24 hours, if they have 12 hours in the evening its considered as good enough. While fish need ice to maintain the quality and grade. In early 2017, fishers premium plan in North Buru start to include HDPE box so they worry less, minimize the possibility of their fish to be downgraded because lacking of ice.

Organizational Development

Each Fishers Associations meets minimum once every 2 months and Fair Trade Committee meets two times per year. This organizational development fund is being used to participate with the Certificate Holder to fund for these meetings. When the officers of Fisher Association and Fair Trade Committee done their administrative work, or implementing the premium projects, they are not able to go fishing – this fund is also use as replacement fund for non-fishing days. It’s being use also for logistic and supplies of the organizations.

Traceability of Fish

When fishers gone fishing, they might go for 14 hours. When they reach the shore – they just too tired. Most of the times, they forget to tag their catch, causing their fish are not considered as Fair Trade Fish. Finally, in early 2015, one Fisher Association start assigning the helper or their middlemen to be responsible for the tagging of fish, separate the fish from non Fair Trade fish, and also handle the consignment papers to the factory. Every Fair Trade Committee disbursement time, the Fisher Association will review their Exported Kilogram & Transferred Premium Report on the period, then multiply the weight with their agreed rate (it used to be around 1/10 of the exported premium rate).

Fuel Starters

In the beginning of the program, the first premium plan the fishers proposed to be implement was purchasing of fuel. There was a tough discussion among fishers and MDPI as the implementing assistance on the ground for months. MDPI tried to promote other projects but rejected, the fishers just want to buy fuel. It is quite understandable, that’s their biggest overhead cost of fishing’s. A drum of 200L with mix of engine oil cost them Rp. 2,000,000, (around US$155)- and in some areas, it only goes to 4- 6 times fishing, where not all those fishing trips is fruitful.

Until the time MDPI was tied to follow their biggest dream of premium fund use or not moving forwards with the programs- but with certain conditions and aimed to give fishers lessons on basic cooperative, management and procurement skill.

This program was implemented in 3 FAs during the bad fishing seasons in mid 2016 – where fishers has loss their efforts to go fishing. MDPI assist the whole process, from teaching the techniques of procurement to find best vendors, building rules and regulations of this so called basic cooperatives and during the distributions of fuel to assist the coordinators to collect the funds after certain time. Some fishers were able to return the fund and experienced the benefit of this program, but most are just not lucky on their fishing efforts – and are not able to return the fund to the FAs and creates bad conflicts in the Fisher Association. This has been predicted, but sometimes lessons should be taken in real experience. It took months to finally make the member to sit in one meeting and decide to pardon, accept their failure, and start over.

Future Challenge

Implementing Fair Trade in the fishery is challenging. Most of fishers have strong personality, low educational background and live individually. Every successful premium project build their confident, organizational skill and bring the member of each Fisher Association closer to each other and building trust among their fellow member and in the system. The entry point of reaching Fair Trade dream has been achieved.

It’s time for MDPI to try to stimulate the ideas of having long term and bigger program than just purchasing tools and goods.