It is a harvest season again for many cocoa farmers across Indonesia. For us, a new season brings a wave of excitement as we look forward to sourcing new batches of cocoa beans from our hard-working smallholder partners farmers across the country.
One of the notable areas where we source our beans from is Saludengen, a small village in Mamasa in the District of West Sulawesi that has around 150 farmers working with us. It is the source of our Silver Award, Single Origin Saludengen bar. We started our collaboration with farmers here back in 2017, starting with only 30 farmers and 500 kilos of beans. We have now grown significantly and expect to procure about 4-5 tons of beans this year.
One important aspect that has helped fuel this growth was the training program conducted in conjunction with Swisscontact back in 2018, where farmers learnt about disease management, nutrient management and post harvest techniques. This year, we are supporting farmers with the upgrading of fermentation and drying facilities to support the significant increase in cocoa production. We are also implementing the CocoaTrace system to provide complete transparency and traceability into the supply chain there.
One of the biggest challenges with working with this community is the lack of telecommunication services. While for most of us living in cities, a telecommunication challenge that means that our Instagram Stories take a couple of minutes to upload. For the villagers here, it means taking a motorcycle ride for an hour to the next big town so that they can make a phone call or SMA. So coordinating the upgrading of the facilities, sending specifications of what the facilities should look like and when they should be built, getting feedback on things that didn’t quite work out, and troubleshooting issues takes significant effort and a lot of time.
Nevertheless, when Markus traveled to the village at the start of July, we were happy to see new fermentation boxes and drying rack built mostly to specifications. However, the extended rainy season this year showed that there is still room for improvement with the current infrastructure. The drying racks covered with plastic will be further upgraded to drying tunnels to improve drying conditions, and a new storage unit will be built to store the dried beans.
In addition, we’ll be conducting a survey to assess how effective the training program has been, and to also determine what additional support we can provide to the farmers here.
At this point, we would like to extend a big thank you to all our supporters who enable us to do the work that we do with our farmers. From supporting our Kiva fundraising to buying our products, your actions are having a direct impact on the lives of the communities we work with, and we hope that you continue follow us along this journey