Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coconuts to the rescue!

One of the things the farmers in Aceh Timur have a problem with is shade.  Not enough, and the cocoa trees dry out.  Too much, and they can’t flourish, and tend to attract more bugs and fungus. 

Over the past few months JMD and the farmers have been identifying trees that have outgrown their usefulness, and have either cut them down or severely pruned them.

But what to plant in their place?

Friends, I give you the humble coconut.

 This is a great tree that is not too bushy or invasive, grows fast, and produces an additional cash crop (and food) for the farmers.  This area hasn’t had  any coconut trees on it for years, so for the first planting we had to “import” some seedlings from villages several kilometers away.

But now that the farmers have coconuts they can grow as many baby coconut shade trees as they need, starting them in the nursery and then moving them to the right locations.

Coconuts are a great choice because they do not compete with the cocoa and they, too, are a carbon-neutral crop.  Plus, if they get too big, down they come; this time there will be a new seedling waiting to take their place.

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