Multi-actor collaboration in urban MSMEs capacity development:

A step towards Yogyakarta sustainable food platform

Hivos, through the Sustainable Diets for All (SD4All) and SWITCH Asia Local Harvest programs built the capacity of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Yogyakarta City to adopt sustainable food practices. This initiative is aimed to increase the capacity of MSMEs in producing local, fair, healthy, and green products (Wise Foodways) and to strengthen the collaboration between Hivos and the Yogyakarta City Government to establish an urban platform on sustainable food.

Together with the Regional Development Planning Agency of Yogyakarta City, Generasi Baru Dapur Indonesia or the New Generation of Indonesia Cooking, and Hivos conducted trainings in two batches. There were 20 participants joined in the first batch on 1-2 September 2020 and 20 other participants took part in the second batch on 7-8 September 2020.

These 40 participants – who were all female – came from three groups of MSMEs namely Pakudaya, Kencanaboga and Sempulur. Their main business is a catering provider for various events organized by the Yogyakarta City Government such as for meetings, seminars, workshops and other events.

One of the participants as well as Pakudaya MSME’s Coordinator, Asri Mikatsih, shared her experience in participating in the training. “The topic is new and interesting for us. Their way of delivering the training is much better than the training we used to have. The training delivery is simple so we can understand it easily and the time management is good, too,” explained Asri.

The chef showing how to cook healthy food (Photo: GBDI)

Asri stated, before participating in this training, that she and other training participants had never heard of healthy and sustainable food. Therefore, this training increased their knowledge and was very useful for her and her MSME group.

How does Asri plan to implement this new knowledge in running her group catering business? “We will start with simple things, for example by creating a new menu with healthy food ingredients such as fish and vegetables. We never thought about it. While preparing the food, we will also pay attention to the process cleanliness,” said Asri again.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Swan, the founder of Dapur Solo, a well-known Indonesian restaurant who is also one of the trainers, convinced the participants that applying the Wise Foodways principles is good for their business reputation. “If you apply the local, healthy, fair and green principles to your business, you will not lose anything. Instead, it will be a great promotion for your business,” said Mrs. Swan. See the training clips here.

Mrs. Swan explaining Wise Foodways concept to training participants (Photo: GBDI)

The training topics include an understanding of the importance of health and sustainable food, the role of food service practitioners in increasing the consumption of healthy and sustainable foods, understanding the principles of culinary business, as well as strategies for recognizing and accessing markets.  The final module of the training is a cooking practice that encourages participants to create healthy and sustainable dishes by considering ingredients, food safety and sanitation, as well as sustainable cooking practices with creative, delicious, and quality menus.

These trainings are examples of collaborative initiative involving various stakeholders such as the local government, MSME groups, and gastronomy initiative. At least three of the GBDI Master Trainers are based in Yogyakarta. Such collaboration is the first concrete step that will pave the way for the establishment of a local platform on sustainable food under the SWITCH Asia Local Harvest program.

Yogyakarta is one of the cities where the SWITCH Asia Local Harvest program is currently facilitating the discussion on a sustainable food platform. A similar collaboration is underway in Bandung City, where Hivos also collaborates with Bandung City Regional Planning, Research and Development and Food and Agriculture Agency.

MSMEs as Key Actor in the City Food System

At the moment, Yogyakarta City has an empowerment program called “Gandeng Gendong.”  The program aims to accelerate poverty reduction by empowering the community and at the same time, strengthening Yogyakarta culinary MSMEs. Due to its strong local culinary and MSME traditions, the Yogyakarta sustainable food platform – when ready – can represent a unique avenue for local stakeholders to integrate its own traditions with culinary MSMEs at the forefront. A locally based approach is key in building a more resilient sustainable food system.

Building MSMEs’ capacity is a strategic move because it involves the people who have great potential to accelerate the implementation of sustainable food practices and cater to various types of consumers from government institutions (through snack and meals procurement) to the general public. In addition, the training participants can become role models and trainers for other entrepreneurs, while playing an active role in the platform’s representing the MSMEs as key food system actors.

Taking It to the National Level

This multi-stakeholder practice is one of the popular topics in discussions under the national platform for Indonesian sustainable food systems, which is currently being initiated by Hivos and the National Development Planning Agency. The platform – which has organized at least four webinars since April 2020 involving national stakeholders – is committed to continuously promote and leverage local knowledge, best practices and innovations for inspiration and learning.

It is our responsibility!

Developing healthy and sustainable food systems is everyone’s responsibility. We should be inclusive in implementing any initiative to understand the systemic challenges on the ground that might not be sufficiently addressed in existing platforms. Time and efforts need to be allocated to involve various food system actors, including MSMEs, with active support from relevant policymakers (especially local government), private sector, and organizations in the sustainable food system. Multi-actor local food system initiatives should continue to actively contribute to the whole Indonesian food system discussion, interconnecting local and national, in sharing knowledge and together create tailor-made solutions for policy, behavior, and practice change.