Junaidi just got back from doing some project monitoring in Simpang Jernih this week, and as far as I can tell he has nothing but good news to report. Now that the rains have gone everyone’s applying fertilizer (they had to wait till a little later this year because of so much rain). The project is now reporting a 65% organic fertilizer rate, which is pretty incredible.
Also, the rain held up a bit of the nursery grafting so the women got busy in their plantations and did 200 side grafts.
Nursery work is hard and sometimes frustrating—all those little plants, so cute, so ready to drop dead at a moment’s notice—so the women in Pante Kera are taking extra care to replicate the good luck their colleagues in Simpang Jernih have had with a simple daily weeding schedule that keeps moisture down and doesn’t exhaust anyone.
And, of course, the cocoa trees are just beginning to flower so that means it’s monkey season (would you expect less from Pante Kera, which means, basically “the monkeys are on the riverbank”?) and farm families are now stepping up their perimeter patrols.
This fellow might stay put in the forest if illegal logging didn't drive him farther towards the perimeter . . .
Actually, it’s Grand Central Station in the plantations this time of year, with wild pigs and loose goats nibbling at low branches (first lesson of Aceh propagation: graft higher than a goat’s head). But Junaidi reports good things: the women are still motivated, thanks in large part to Robert, and they seem to be making lots more decisions independently. Which is good for the sustainability of the project. When it ends in 2016 they will hopefully have had enough of a taste of economic self-sufficiency to not only keep their business going but act as the “base” for what we hope will be other groups around the district that JMD can persuade to join the association.