Q. Why should I help a cocoa farmer ?
A. Without cocoa farmers there would be no chocolate, and, since we all love chocolate, we should all care about cocoa farmers.
Unfortunately, in recent years the pressures of pests and diseases on top of the problems with ageing trees and less than necessary long term soil management have decreased cocoa farm harvests by more than 50% in the largest cocoa growing regions of Indonesia. This has put great pressure on cocoa farmers who lack the know how, tools and financial resources to overcome the problems. This has caused many cocoa farming families to turn to other crops such as corn or palm oil.
We want these cocoa farmers to get back on their feet and manage sustainable cocoa farms long into the future so that our grandchildren can also enjoy chocolate.
Q. Will "Cocoa Care" replant or rehabilitate entire cocoa farms?
A. Generally speaking, once we show a cocoa farming family what can be achieved, help them get the tools they need to do the job and give them a helping hand to start the process of change, they will work hard and save to realize their full potential.
So most often "Cocoa Care" will replant of rehabilitate up to 250 trees of a famers farm (25% or 1 ha farm), train them, provide the tools required and work with them to make a start and they will do the rest.
Q. How much of my money will actually reach the cocoa farmer ?
A. As "Cocoa Care" taps into and is expanding an existing network of independent cocoa farmer enterprises to do the training and field work, we do not have the typical, expensive management infrastructure (typically 30-40%) that is normally required to manage agricultural development programs. We also buy the tools and materials we need in bulk to get the best possible prices and combine work on nearby farms as much as possible to reduce logistics and administrative support costs.
This means that between 77% - 80 % of the actual funds provided by supporters is directly spent on farm or with the farmer enterprise care providers, while the rest goes into the on-line services administration, progress monitoring, purchasing and delivery costs.
Q. How do you choose which farmers to work with ?
A. We chose to start the Cocoa Care program in the area where CSI buys most of its cocoa tree bark (stripped from pruning waste) to make cocoa paper and we looked for cocoa farming families who were keen to work hard to improve their failing farms. naturally as we start to work in an area other farmers find out and come to see if we can help them.
As Cocoa Care expands we will continue to look for struggling families who have the potential and the will to succeed and just need that extra helping hand to get them going.
Q. How are you different from other cocoa sustainability programs in Indonesia?
As "Cocoa Care" is not affiliated with any of the larger private company or Government programs, we are able to work with you to focus your support in areas where you can see the results of your work alone, or combine your contribution with others to leverage its impact over a broader area.
You can choose an activity you would like to get involved with and in some cases choose a particular family that you would like to help. You can then monitor the progress of your work on line through our “Cocoa Care” website.
Q.If I donate money, will I be able to monitor the progress?
A. Absolutely. Once your sponsorship has been received you will be advised your sponsor number by email with a link to the supporters page. When you find your number (and if you agree, your name) you will just need to click on it to see your updates.
Initial progress should be fairly quick, within weeks, as we have famers waiting for your support and are identifying and evaluating the needs of more all the time. Once the program has started however, it does take some time for the trees to grow and it may take several months to see a significant change.
What does change very fast is the smiles on faces and we hope that excites you as much as it does us.
Q. What are the main pests & diseases that effect cocoa in Indonesia and how are they destroying the crop?
A. Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB), which appeared in Sulawesi farms in the late 90's, is a widespread problem that attacks the cocoa pods and destroys the cocoa seeds inside. Losses due to cocoa pod borer alone can be as much as 60% and is typically around 35-40%. With proper pruning, farm sanitation and a responsible approach to integrated pest management, CPB can be managed to between 5%-10% losses.
Vascular streak dieback (VSD) is another serious problem in Sulawesi as it can kill the entire tree. It is a fungal infection that affects the growing branches and can spread through the trees vascular system. VSD is also manageable by good attention to pruning and the application of foliar fertilizer to keep the growing branches healthy and vigorous.
Black Pod can also cause significant losses particularly in very wet seasons and damp areas. Black Pod is caused by the Phytopthera fungus, which lives in the soil, and can be carried into the tree by water splashing or ants crawling up the tree. It is essential to remove infected pods from the trees to reduce further fungal spore dispersion. The re-introduction of beneficial soil bacteria through composting is believed to reduce the amount of Phytopthera in the soil.
There are many other pests and diseases in cocoa, but most can be controlled by a well trained farmer employing good agricultural practices (GAP) and integrated pest management.
If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us on the contacts page.