Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lots going on at the cocoa farms in Aceh Timur this month

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. 

the hosts showed farmers how they graded their beans and what to look for

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.

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