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IPNI Southeast Asia Program and Cocoa Care International start Agronomy and Nutrition Research Program on Cocoa in Sulawesi, Indonesia
Wednesday, 2013/07/10 | 16:11:09

Cacao has been grown in Indonesia for hundreds of years and since the 1980s, grew rapidly to be now the third largest producer in the world with annual production of 550,000 – 570,000 metric tons forecast in the 2012/2013 crop year. Since the early 2000s, there has been an ongoing decline in quality and productivity, which has undermined cacao farm profitability, presenting a substantial risk to the survival of the industry in Indonesia, while global markets are still strong.

 

IPNI Southeast Asia Program and Cocoa Care started a cacao farm research and development project in Soppeng, South Sulawesi, Indonesia to quantify the effectiveness of balanced fertilizer applications to increase cocoa farm productivity, improve cacao bean quality and increase cacao farm income in a typical Indonesian small-holder farming system, and to estimate the market potential for sustainable nutrition in cocoa. Specifically, the project has identified 20 small holder cacao farmers in the Soppeng / Bone area of South Sulawesi where generally poorly trained farmers are struggling to maintain sustainable productivity levels under increasing pressure from pests and diseases with inadequate application of necessary farm inputs.

 

The cacao farmers will be trained both ‘in class’ and ‘in field’ how to implement good agricultural practices on their farms for maximum productivity. Essential farming tools will be provided to families who are unable to afford them and, where necessary, dead or non-productive cacao trees will be rehabilitated or replaced with the best available planting materials. Soil and leaf sampling will be undertaken within the farms to guide the implementation of nutritional and other soil management practices. The concept of 4R Nutrient Stewardship will be used to implement the nutrition program. Farms are split into half. One half of the farm will be treated with general good agricultural management practices, but will not receive fertilizer applications. The other half will receive good agricultural management practices, including fertilizer applications. Test plots with 50 to 100 trees each will be established within each treatment to monitor the impact of these interventions.

 

This innovative design will enable statistically robust comparative analyses. Furthermore, the newly selected farms will also be analyzed jointly with farms that are already within the IPNI Cocoa Care Program. The project will be jointly managed by IPNI Southeast Asia Program, Malaysia and PT Community Solutions International, Cocoa Care program. Farmer identification, procurement, field trials implementation and monitoring will be conducted by the Cocoa Care team while IPNI Southeast Asia Program will provide guidance on scientific methods, statistical analysis of results and managerial oversight.

 

Cocoa Care is a program, managed by PT CSI and voluntarily supported by experienced leaders in cacao sustainability in Indonesia to leverage existing cocoa industry capabilities, both within the farming community and industry stakeholders to help cacao farming families overcome current difficulties and move toward economic sustainability. Details are available at www.cocoacare.org.

 

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