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!