Before I start the weekly leap off the sustainability ship and am sucked into the Scylla and Charybdis of well-intentioned foreign aid and economic skullduggery, I must report on the amazing things that JMD has accomplished in the last three weeks.
First, staff took a representative group of 9 women farmers
from our villages in Aceh Timur on a study tour of a larger and commercial
cocoa farm in bordering Aceh Tamiang, about 2.5 hours to the west. They had learned about this farm at the
November cocoa conference in Banda Aceh, where they asked around for anyone
willing to give the women a tour of a successful operation and show them some
of the methods they were using for cocoa improvement. The group had a great trip and the owners and
staff of the farm were extremely gracious and helpful. They saw proper grafting and cloning
techniques in progress, the heard how these farmers are integrating organic
fertilizer into their regular fertilizer (although not to the degree that JMD
would like its farmers to do), and perhaps most important of all, they saw that
what they were doing on their farms had the potential to be a very important
part of the economic and social growth of their region. They returned quite energized and confident,
and gave mini-talks to the farmers who did not go on the tour, and the
following week everyone was busy starting the fertilizing and brush-cutting
season, along with a little clone-grafting of their own.
I’m going to post just a few photos here; the rest can be
seen on Photobucket (and a link is now conveniently on the right hand column of this page--how about that!!) along
with a zillion more that we are still sorting out. Our library is called JMD_VIDEO.
some good grafting and cloning was practiced
rain did not dampen anyone's spirits
the farmers learned different ways of sorting and fermenting
The following week, JMD field staff delivered fertilizer to Simpang Jernih and Pante Kera in the fashion to which we have grown accustomed . . .
Kids were on vacation this week so got to help offload the fertilizer, which they seemed to like a lot
I've said it before and I'll say it again: cocoa farming is not for sissies. These women are my heroes.