Before the training, however, Santa came early to Simpang Jernih and Pante Kera, in the form of pre-made organic fertilizer and a growth/pest-control hormone that we are trying like mad to analyze to see how we can make it ourselves. The contents are a more heavily guarded secret than Kentucky Fried Chicken. But a trip to the university lab might be able to crack it. We’ll see. The object of the project, after all, is to provide the women with the information necessary to make all their fertilizer and pest control products at home, from things pretty much lying around the house or farm or, in rare cases, easily purchased at a local shop.
First thing the women had to do when the fertilizer arrived at Simpang Jernih was to load half of it on the trusty river raft (rebuilt and safely re-tethered to its iron cable after the rainstorms and flooding of last month) for the trip to Pante Kera (and our new 4-farmer village of Batu Sumbang—woo-hoo!).
At the home of one of the cocoa farmers in Pante Kera, Robert distributed the liquid fertilizer/hormone to the group.
Here’s the association’s warehouse, complete with nifty sign indicating their name (Pilar Tani) and location. The elected Chair of the association is making sure that each woman gets the right amount of fertilizer. Few women in Aceh want to draw attention to themselves by acting and being seen as leaders, but this association is an exception, and JMD is working with the more outspoken and confident members to encourage other women to share in association decisions and act as peer trainers.
Of course, when it rains it pours and when it doesn't it's dry as a bone, so the application of fertilizer is going to have to wait a bit until the area gets a bit more rain. No wonder the world is experiencing a cocoa shortage-- it's the toughest job around!