Saturday, March 8, 2014

We interrupt this election coverage to talk about REALLY important stuff: cocoa farming!

JMD staff just finished a busy month in Aceh Timur, overseeing the construction of an equipment warehouse for cocoa farmers in Pante Kera (which means “riverbank full of monkeys” in case you were wondering) and making deliveries of specialty fertilizer and growth hormone to assist farms with old and neglected trees.  JMD is working with farmers on their second nursery, which will create a superior and disease resistant strain of cocoa tree, but they take 3 years to mature and in the meantime, old trees that were neglected during the conflict need a “boost” to get them healthy for the next harvest.
Here is the equipment warehouse for the farmers in Pante Kera.  Robert and the carpenter did this in a week, and it is the nicest and sturdiest-looking building I have seen in a long time.  Although JMD’s goat and poultry barns in Pidie were a sight to behold also.  This structure was funded by Embassy of Finland’s Local Cooperation Fund team, who have been nothing but wonderful and supportive of this project.

We spent a lot of time discussing the benefits of this “magic potion:” an organic compound/growth hormone that a farmer applies once to a mature tree to give it some fast-acting immune-suppressant properties that will allow it to resist many of the diseases that currently plague all cocoa farms.   Unfortunately, its ingredients are secret, or JMD would be able to replicate it.  It’s the hope of the project that the new trees that are added to the plantations will have grown up healthy and able to withstand many of the diseases that attacked these current trees before they received help.  Remember, Pante Kera farmers have never received any outside assistance from anyone—local, national or international—so many of these trainings and treatments are being implemented for the first time.  Nowhere to go but up!

The “starter” fertilizer gets divided and half is sent across the river from Simpang Jernih via the usual “barge;” note the Partai Aceh flags on the rails.  Even transportation is political here . . . .

Next: two cocoa farming communities begin to map out how to work together for everyone’s benefit


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    1. That is great to hear! Please keep reading, and tell your friends! Thanks so much.