Cocoa remains an important source of income to hundreds of thousands of smallholder farmers in Sulawesi, West Papua, North Sumatra and Bali. SUCCESS Alliance will break the destructive cycle of Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) through effective integrated pest management practices and adoption of better tree cropping methods. Active participation by farmers, particularly women, in farmer field schools and farmer led research will continue to be the means by which we achieve this. Additional attention will be given to identifying biological controls and pest resistant tree varieties and encouraging side-grafting to revitalize unproductive cocoa trees in gardens.
Since 1984 cocoa is developed in Bali, started with 4 units of demplots with 25 are each in Tabanan district. The existence of farmer organization is stimulate by the enthusiasm and motivation of cocoa farmer, in Bali the farmer organization is called “Subak”, Subak Abian (farmer group-led).
Farming sector in Tabanan and Jembrana district is held a significant position in local economic structure. They were have a bright prospect until CPB infestation Reports of CPB attack in Bali indicate that CPB is attacking cocoa estates in the village of Wanasari, Selemadeg Sub-District (Tabanan District - Bali). A study undertaken by DISBUN (Indonesian Department of Estate Crops) and ICCRI (Indonesian Cocoa Research Institute) indicate that the CPB infestation has already reached a devastating 93.88 percent. Thus the threat of CPB for Bali cocoa producers is now a significant issue and one that needs to be dealt with precipitously before the devastating CPB is allowed to take hold in the region.
Base on the fact SUCCESS Alliance of Bali focused the activities in integrated CPB pest control by FFS approach through the cooperative economic system. The target areas are Tabanan and Jembrana district during 2004 2005 in 42 units of demplots.
After largely abortive attempts by the former Dutch administration to establish Cocoa plantations in Papua during the 1950s and early 1960s Cocoa was established as a plantation crop in Manokwari Regency and other parts of Papua Province during the 1980s and 1990s. Initially a large plantation, the PT Cokran Plantation, was established in Ransiki District. This was then followed by the Nusa Indah Plantation in Manokwari District and the PTP2 Plantation in Prafi District.
While these commercial plantations have spawned some independent development of smallholder cocoa plantations, with farmers basing their plantation model upon what they have observed while working in the commercial plantations, the great majority of smallholder cocoa plantations have been developed under the auspices of development assistance programs. These programs include the UN supported Irian Jaya Joint Development Fund (IJJDF), which promoted development of smallholder Cocoa plantations from 1984 through until 1994, the District Development Project (P2WK) in 1989 – 1990 and the Asia Development Bank funded Sustainable Agriculture Development Project (SADP) from 1993 through until 2003.
Today Manokwari Regency is the most important cocoa producing area in Papua with around 2,000 – 2,500 smallholder families producing an estimated 500 tons of dried cocoa beans per annum from over 2,500 hectares of cocoa gardens spread across 7 districts. Most of these smallholders have gardens of around 1 hectare though there are rare instances were a single grower may own up to five hectares of cocoa gardens.
However, smallholder cocoa production rates in Manokwari are very low. A recent USAID funded study (Soenarto & Kambuaya 2002) found that on average smallholder Cocoa growers in Manokwari average around 375kg per hectare per annum. Government Plantations Service data from 2001 suggests that production rates are much lower, around 150 – 200 kg per hectare per year. The findings of a recent farmer perceptions study conducted by SUCCESS Alliance, DISBUN, UNIPA and local NGO partners in Pantura, Oransbari and Ransiki Districts of Manokwari Regency suggests that even these figures may be overestimating the productivity of indigenous smallholders with many farmers reporting that they have not harvested their gardens at all for several seasons while others indicated that they had witnessed a decline of as much as 90% of their productivity in the previous decade. This suggests that while some farmers may be harvesting as much as 375 kg/ha/year the average across the whole of Manokwari District is more likely to be between 100 and 200 kg/ha/year. Whatever figure is used when compared to average yields for smallholder Cocoa growers in Sulawesi, where despite much higher levels of CPB infestations farmers can still generally produce between 600 and 1,000 kg per hectare, it is clear that smallholder yields in Papua are extremely low.
Key factors Limiting Cocoa Production in Papua
The findings of the SUCCESS Alliance farmer perceptions study identified a range of factors which contribute to the low productivity of smallholder cocoa growers.
High levels of rainfall and high humidity throughout most of the year without a significant dry season to break population growth cycles provides near perfect living conditions for most pests and diseases of cocoa.
- Relatively poor soils in many cocoa growing areas, particularly along the north coast (Pantura) of Manokwari District. This situation was compounded by poor site selection, no soil testing and land access constraints. This results in poor plant health, low yields and increased susceptibility to various pests and diseases.
- Presence of a wide variety of pests including mirid and non-mirid pod suckers (Helopeltis clavifer, Pseudodoniella laensis, Parabryocoropsis typicus and Amblypelta danishii), stem & branch borers (Glenea lefebueri, Pantorhytes spp. & Pansepta teleterga,), and diseases including black pod rot and stem kanker (Phytopthera palmivora), root rot (Phellinus noxius & Rigidoporus lignosus), Vascular Streak Dieback (Oncobasidium theobromae), pink disease (Corticium salmonicolor), and thread blights (Corticium sp. and Marasmius sp.). Many of these pests and diseases are either absent from other parts of Indonesia or are considered of only minor commercial significance;
- The recent introduction or local adaptation of the Cocoa Pod Borer is beginning to seriously compound the problem of low yields. While CPB remains a tertiary threat for most farmers (after black pod rot and pod suckers) it is suspected that should losses to black pod rot and pod suckers be reduced losses to CPB are likely to increase dramatically.
- Semi-nomadic lifestyles whereby many farmers may leave their gardens untended and unharvested for months at a time, even during the minor harvest season, so as to visit their relatives in distant villages.
- Low levels of agricultural intensification and specialization resulting a low intensity or hunter-gatherer approach to cocoa production (ie. Farmers generally become bored if they intensively manage a single crop on a broad scale).
- A dependency mentality, which has in part been fostered through the IJJDF, SADP and other projects over subsidizing cocoa and other village development projects, whereby many farmers expect subsidies to manage their cocoa gardens.
- High degree of individualism and decentralized leadership structures resulting in low levels of cooperation with communities.
- Land access constraints whereby a handful of people control access to most of the land and actively limit access to prime land and the planting of tree crops.
- Gender constraints, most notably the fact that women, who are the principal agriculturalists in most of the target societies, are sidelined from both cocoa marketing and training activities resulting in a lack of knowledge, skills and incentives to invest their labor in intensive cocoa cultivation.
- Subsistence gardening activities which remain the principle reoccupation of Papuan smallholder cocoa growers. These long fallow cycle swidden systems make inefficient use of labor and resources, often requiring two or more hours per day in traveling time alone, which leaves little time for management of cocoa gardens.
Economic and Demographic Conditions
- Recent introduction to and general mistrust of the cash economy.
- Strong preference towards consumptive spending and investment of incomes into traditional exchange goods rather than reinvestment of capital into agricultural enterprises. - preferential illiquidity - partly due to social demands
- Lack of financial and small enterprise management skills related to the extremely low education levels in most smallholder cocoa growing communities.
- Geographical isolation affecting transportation and marketing of cocoa harvests. – very low price of cocoa at the farm gate and very high price of agricultural inputs.
- High labor costs as a result of low population densities, subsistence self-reliance and reluctance to engage in low paid menial labour;
- Limited access to information including cocoa market information and on pests / diseases and other technical aspects of cocoa production;
Inappropriate Cocoa Growing Systems and Extensions Services
Unfortunately, in developing smallholder cocoa production little heed as been paid to local bio-ecological, social-cultural, economic and demographic conditions outlined above. Rather the model that has been promoted through all of these enterprises and projects has been based upon South East Asian commercial plantation models. In the case of commercial plantations this has been driven by the concern for maximizing output through intensive and high input cultivation methods. In the case of the cocoa development projects it has presumably been driven by concerns for rapid extensification within a short project timeframe as well as logistical expediency. The model that has been developed uses:
- Clear felling / slash and burn of primary or secondary rainforest to prepare plantation sites;
- Planting of cocoa trees at spacings of 2.5 x 2.5, 2 x 3, 3 x 3 or at best 2 x 4 metres (1,100 – 1,600 trees per hectare) as opposed to the 4 x 4 to 5 x 5 metre (400 – 625 trees per hectare) spacings common in Papua New Guinea and other Pacific nations;
- Planting of Gliricidia sepium as the sole inter-crop / shade crop;
- Planting of smallholder plantations in contiguous blocks with combined areas of up to 400 or more hectares.
These broadacre Cocoa-Gliricidia duoculture systems are ecologically unsustainable. They lead to nutrient depletion and pest and disease problems that will make cocoa farming in Papua untenable unless chemical fertilizers and pesticides become widely adopted. This is not only undesirable for an environmental and human health viewpoint but also highly unlikely in the context of Papua.
Furthermore, the extensions programs that have been associated with the smallholder cocoa development projects have been of limited effectiveness in terms of promoting ongoing crop management because they have:
- Largely used top-down methodology, predicting the needs of farmers and prescribing the solutions for them;
- Placed most of their emphasis on establishment of plantations and harvesting and processing with limited attention to ongoing crop maintenance;
- Largely been lacking in terms of women’s participation thereby overlooking the principle intensive agriculturalists;
- Used language and concepts that are often extremely difficult for poorly educated indigenous cocoa smallholders to comprehend;
- Looked towards inappropriate models (ie. Conducting study tours to Jember – East Java) rather than seeking more locally appropriate examples.
- Relied on cash incentives to maintain participation thereby reinforcing the dependency mentality surrounding cocoa cultivation.
From these findings it is predicted that following the current trajectory smallholder productivity is only likely to continue to decline to the point whereby indigenous smallholder cocoa farming in Papua will be largely abandoned within five to ten years. The shift away from cocoa is already quite evident with many of the existing farmers leaving their gardens untended and unharvested due to pest & disease problems, and this is still mostly due to “Black Pod Rot” (Phytophthera palmivora), caspid pests and stem borers. The Cocoa Pod Borer (CPB) is still a rising threat that is only likely to accelerate the abandonment of cocoa cropping.
Therefore we envisage that the only way forward towards a sustainable cocoa growing industry in Papua Province is through the development of more ecologically, economically and social-cultural appropriate model. This must be based on sustainable agroforestry principles, integrating good crop husbandry practices and integrated pest management.
Indigenous Papuan smallholders also need assistance with financial and enterprise management and improving grower organization to increase their market leverage.
Therefore, the key challenges for the SUCCESS Alliance in Papua are to adapt the model of Farmer Field Schools (FFS) for increasing smallholder Cocoa yields that was developed by the SUCCESS Project Sulawesi, which is principally based upon CPB control, to a very different and much broader set of social and environmental circumstances where the threat of production loses to the CPB exists as just one of many factors affecting Cocoa farmer’s productivity and livelihoods.
Furthermore, given the near anarchic nature of Papuan social systems (including cultural factors such as the high degree of individualism, mistrust of authority, confrontationalism, consensual decision making systems, semi-nomadism and overall lack of social cohesion) and limited adherence to routine or scheduled activities, sustained community interest and participation in the program will be largely dependent upon our ability to adapt the methodology and methods to make them more participatory, flexible and responsive to the perceived needs and timeframes of the target communities.
The term Farmer Field Schools which is used by the SUCCESS Alliance in other parts of Indonesia will also be replaced with the term “Participatory Learning with Cocoa Farmers” as the former is deemed to have some negative connotations for many Papuans and also because it has already been applied as part of the SADP program in the context of a significantly different training methodology.