“Mars is committed to making a real difference in the lives of people worldwide, and we are honored to be a finalist for this prestigious award,” said Frank Mars, president of Mars Symbioscience and Mars Inc. Board member. “It has been a privilege to work first hand in Indonesia these past 10 years alongside other Mars Associates and with the local communities. I firmly believe the environmental and community work Mars is doing in Indonesia is a clear example of putting our principles into action to mutually benefit the Indonesian people, the planet and in turn our business interests in the country.”
Mars was nominated by Embassy Jakarta, based on the company’s contribution to Indonesian green growth and sustainable livelihoods and its commitment to practicing and promoting good corporate citizenship. Mars has been producing cocoa powder and cocoa butter in Indonesia, the world’s third largest supplier of cocoa, since 1996 and has marketed its confectionery and petfood products in Indonesia since the 1980’s. It now directly employs 500 Indonesians and works with about 2,000 smallholder cocoa farmers.
Specifically, Mars is being recognized for:
Introducing technology and skills to thousands of small farmers to increase their cocoa yields and income
Mars focuses on building an innovative, market-driven, sustainable foundation upon which thousands of small farmers have improved their productivity and reduced the negative environmental impact of traditional farming methods. Mars is continuing to develop a significant network of farm services businesses to supply critical farm inputs, including the best quality clonal seedlings, compost and technical support services to create a more sustainable future for cocoa farmers. This model relies on five Mars “Cocoa Development Centers” (CDCs) across Indonesia that train thousands of cocoa farmers and partner organization trainers, highlight new methods and technologies in demonstration farms, and teach entrepreneurial farmers to be “Cocoa Doctors.” The Cocoa Doctors then apply what they’ve learned through managing a network of 80 “Cocoa Village Centers” (CVCs), which currently are providing extension services to 12,000 local farmers.
Developing models for sustainable cocoa farming through reduced land use
Mars is a leader in the cocoa industry’s drive to become more environmentally conscious and focused on sustainability. Mars created the CDC/CVC model to demonstrate the reduced land use and higher farm income benefits of using higher productivity planting material, sustainable soil management including compost fertilizer from recycled farm waste, and consistent application of good agricultural practices in socially and environmentally responsible ways.
Providing seed capital to women’s groups to start businesses
Mars empowers women’s groups in Indonesian communities to start their own complementary businesses to cocoa farming, such as turning plastic waste into bags and purses or establishing a sewing business. In the town of BoneBone, Sulawesi, Mars provided seed money to women working to produce school uniforms for local children, in addition to assisting the vocational school itself expand from 100 students to over 1000. On the island of Palau Badi, Sulawesi Mars initiated a project to work with local fisherman to develop a sustainable, alternate livelihood business model to produce ornamental fish, and particularly seahorses. Pulau Badi has almost 2,000 inhabitants whose livelihoods are based on traditional fishing practices, with no sanitation services, minimal electrical power supply or other basic services. In September 2012, the first-ever shipment of CITES certified seahorses took flight from Indonesia destined for home aquariums in Europe.
Restoring damaged coral reefs and reverse unsustainable fishing
Mars Associates are committed to working with the local community to restore damaged coral reefs and the ecosystems off the coast of the island of Sulawesi. In an attempt to catch large quantities of fish, local fisherman use a technique called “fish bombing,” throwing sticks of dynamite into the water to net their kill, which damage the coral reefs. For example, eight Mars ambassadors, all certified scuba divers, spent ten days working with villagers on Pulau Badi to rehabilitate and restore about 200 meters of the reef during that time. Mars ambassadors have continued to work hand-in-hand with local fisherman to help teach sustainable fishing practices, including fish farming and now have helped restore over 1000 meters of reef.
The 2013 ACE winners will be announced at the annual ceremony hosted by the Secretary of State to be held in early 2014. The State Department created the award in 1999 to recognize the important role U.S. businesses play abroad as good corporate citizens. Finalists were selected from 42 nominations submitted by U.S. ambassadors around the world. In 2010, Mars won the award for its development efforts in the cocoa-growing region of the Republic of Ghana.