Cocoa Care programme aids farmers boost production in Indonesia

cocoa-darias martin sxc.huA partnership between the International Plant Nutrition Institute — Southeast Asia Program (IPNI SEAP) and PT Community Solutions International’s Cocoa Care programme has been helping farmers in Indonesia rehabilitate their farms

Indonesia is one of the top three global producers of cocoa and Sulawesi contributes 65 per cent of the production. Cocoa reportedly plays a dominant role for the livelihoods of many farming families in the region.

However, pests, diseases and poor farm management have reduced cocoa production significantly. Indonesian production dwindled sharply from approximately 700,000 tonnes per annum in the late 1990s to 420,000 tonnes in 2013. The lack of cocoa farming knowledge and farm inputs such as fertilisers further threaten the industry.

Despite the increasing global demand for cocoa, smallholders in Sulawesi are struggling to keep their farms profitable, IPNI SEAP report said.

Cocoa Care, a scalable sustainability programme, is aiding farmers through agronomy training, information dissemination, provision of inputs, and by building a unique cocoa community network. IPNI SEAP in partnership with Cocoa Care, are also spearheading a research and development initiative.

The pilot phase of the project was set up with a volunteer group of 25 smallholder farmers in Sulawesi region. In various cases, farms that combined good agricultural practices and 4R nutrient management reached previous levels of annual bean production within six months, with forecasted harvests of up to two tonnes per hectare per year.

The reports suggested that farmers involved in the study are becoming convinced of the benefits of managing their farms with good agricultural practices including appropriate nutrient management. Those who own additional farms, have begun implementing these practices at their own expense. The IPNI SEAP Cocoa Care project is now seeking additional support to integrate more families, helping them transform their poorly producing cocoa farms into productive and profitable businesses.

By using farmer-led experimentation to improve cocoa yield, cocoa quality and farmer income, the initiative will quantify the nutrition contribution to yield improvements, quantify the market potential for fertilisers, and develop a farmer-led approach for sustainable intensification.

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