The last two days brought together a huge range of government officials, private companies and civil society groups for the biannual partners meeting of the World Cocoa Foundation in San Francisco. This meeting focused on emerging cocoa origins, and Asia was a focus for many attendees. Particularly interesting was a presentation by Swisscontact’s Manfred Boer on their 21 month, $7 million dollar PEKA Project in Aceh, Indonesia.
Since 2008, PEKA has trained nearly 12,000 farmers through 26 local staff, 80 Indonesian government extension workers and 500 farmer volunteers. If extended to a 5 year program, PEKA could potentially reach 25,000 farmers directly, and 100,000 total through farmer volunteers that bring their knowledge to other farmers.
While not a complete solution, programs like PEKA are an excellent example of how many groups across the public and private sectors can successfully collaborate to operate at a significant scale. More importantly, with the better organization, increased knowledge and higher incomes (an average increase of 20% for trained farmers), farmers are better able to reinvest in their farms and are more easily able to become certified under programs like UTZ Certified, Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade. As a beginning, PEKA represents some of the best efforts that the industry will need to reproduce in other regions in the very near future to avoid serious problems in next ten years.