Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The cocoa harvest continues . . .

. . . and it’s a flurry of activity in Simpang Jernih and Pante Kera (two towns you don’t often see mentioned in print—and the world is the poorer for it). So let’s give the women (and their tiny helpers) a massive cheer for the incredible amount of work they have had to do this month. 

 Here’s Jamilah demonstrating good harvesting technique, and then bringing in some pods from her plantation.

Ibu Sauda is showing the interior of one of her pods. Very healthy looking!

Not only was the majority of the harvest coming in, there was lots of drying to do, PLUS the group is planting and cultivating 6,500 (count’ em) seedlings in their two nurseries. 

 Many have made it to their third week, but the immense rain during the last planting made life pretty miserable for about 1,000, so they will have to be replanted.
Leave it to Robert to save the day: the women are now using home-made “vermiculite” in the form of spent ash from their stoves to add to the medium to make it fluffier and coat the bean.  It seems to be working; nearly all of the seeds from Try #2 have sprouted.

Now that the farmers have 10 drying racks to share, the beans are looking better than ever—and fewer of them have to be culled.

Some farmers like to spread them out on a tarp first, to get rid of the bad beans.
Robert took these photos, and I love them all, but especially this one of a farmer’s husband looking over a big red tarp.

Here are two farmers drying and sorting their beans.

All is not rosy in Aceh Timur, however.
The women are now faced with the challenge of how to remove overgrown shade trees that cause the cocoa pods under them to rot.  The trees are too big to cut down with a machete now.  And some of them are valuable fruit trees that have to be replaced.
I am half thinking of marching myself into the forest and dragging out some illegal logging delinquent by his ear and having him make his chainsaw do some honest work for a change.

You know, I may be onto something . . .

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