Wednesday, February 18, 2015

It's grafting training month for the cocoa farmers

Well, the grant applications are all in--for this month anyway—we just have to sit back and wait for some forward-thinking donor to realize that the only way to save the rainforest is one cocoa farmer at a time.

Next month: AUSAID won’t know what hit ‘em!

In the meantime, Robert and the training expert are preparing for next week’s formal and field-based training on probably one of the most important topics in sustainable cocoa farming: grafting.  It’s a science and an art, all rolled into one, and if you are successful at it, the world is your oyster—or rather, your healthy bit of scion wood.

Some of our farmers have already developed a bit of an aptitude for this practice; grafting training isn’t something JMD just provides once and then forgets about.  It really has to be practiced over and over. Last year when 5 women took a tour of a  commercial cocoa plantation they saw first-hand how a large nursery and grafting operation worked, and were each given 10 branches of one of the superior cocoa varieties   grown in Aceh.  
 We’re watching those grafts pretty carefully, but they still have about a year to go before they start producing.

For this training we’ve purchased 200 more superior pieces of scion wood (JMD calls them “superior cones”) and the women will be grafting their little hearts out.  However, with a target of 600 trees per HA, and each woman farming between .5 and 3 HAs of cocoa  . . . well, you can see where this is leading.  We need a LOT more scion wood!  That’s one of the things we hope to be producing by the end of this LCF (Finland Embassy)-funded project: home-grown grafting stock for all the rootstock the women are now growing in the nursery.

Like I’ve said before, cocoa cultivation is not for the faint of heart.
Aceh Province: Where men are men . . . and women grow cocoa!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The sun has finally come out, and the women are back at work

In Aceh, this was a rainy season for the books.  Only yesterday did the river communities in Aceh Timur locate the transport raft and re-connect it to the iron cable that snapped during heavy flooding this season, leaving many without access to markets, healthcare, or businesses.  Life on the buffer of the rainforest is not for the faint of heart!

These drying racks have been extremely helpful—and as you can see, they are fairly simple contraptions.  But the combination of air flow and helpful working height produces a far better quality bean with much less effort—provided it isn’t pouring cats and dogs.

But the waters are receding, the raft is working again, and the cocoa farmers in Simpang Jernih and Pante Kera are making up for lost time, spraying their surviving nursery trees to ward off diseases that could be caused by excess moisture.

These backpack sprayers have also been a godsend. JMD can usually raise money to distribute one per nursery but they really need 2, since the nurseries are getting so big.  Anyone wishing to donate a backpack sprayer and organic pesticide to the women of Simpang Jernih for their nursery can visit JMD's website at and contribute $50—that is all it takes to help keep 3,000 cocoa seedlings alive.

Robert was able to visit all of the farmers finally, and reports that while this harvest, being the tail end, is slim, it is still a 50% increase in last year’s production. Another bullet dodged in the heart of the jungle.

Monday, February 2, 2015

This February, help Rainforest Action Network stop conflict palm oil

Between now and the end of February, Palm Oil Activists around the world are putting PepsiCo in a Time Out until it cuts Conflict Palm Oil. Why a Time Out? PepsiCo is acting like a stubborn child - one who wants all the  toys (or profits) but none of the   responsibility. We need your help to hold PepsiCo to account.

PepsiCo is the largest globally distributed snack food company in the world and is a major user of Conflict Palm Oil. PepsiCo’s continued unwillingness to take responsibility for the consequences of the palm oil in its supply chain is shocking. The company continues to fry its chips and fill its products with palm oil sourced from controversial, unknown plantations -- products like its Quaker Oats Chewy bars that end up in lunch boxes every day.

Thanks to your hard work and consumer pressure, our campaign on PepsiCo is building momentum. But the forests are still falling and we are not there yet. Tropical rainforests, endangered wildlife and exploited laborers need PepsiCo to start taking this issue seriously and to take immediate steps to create real change. It’s our job to keep the pressure up, and demand that PepsiCo demonstrates to its customers that it can be trusted to provide products free of Conflict Palm Oil.

Here’s how you can take action right now:
STEP 1: Download and print a handful of copies of THIS card (on recycled paper, of course).
STEP 2: Ask your friends, family members, colleagues and people on the street to sign the card to demand that PepsiCo Cut Conflict Palm Oil! There are a lot of great ways to collect a ton of cards at once:
   Grab some friends and head out to a busy spot in your town. 
   Set up a table at a grocery store or farmers market and ask passerby’s to stop and sign a card.
   Ask for a few minutes on the agenda of any gathering that you are a part of. You could ask everyone in your office at a staff meeting, all of your peers in a class or all of the members of your club/sports team/religious group etc. 
   Ask a local business if they can keep a stack of cards on their counter (leave an envelope for people to leave their cards for you to mail in!)
   Share this blog post on Facebook and Twitter to invite people in your circles to join in on the action.
STEP 3: Mail your cards! If you live in the US, PepsiCo’s mailing address is:
PepsiCo, Inc. 700 Anderson Hill RoadPurchase, NY 10577

Indonesia's regional address:
PepsiCo Indonesia
Sudirman Plaza
Jl Jend Sudirman Kav 76-78 Sudirman Plaza
Setiabudi, Setia Budi
Jakarta Selatan 12910 DKI Jakarta

Together, we have the power to transform our broken food system, force the palm oil industry to respect the rights of workers and forest communities, and protect rainforests which are the homes of the last wild orangutans. Put PepsiCo in a Time Out by mailing your card right now!