Making the cocoa business sustainable means more than just coming up with the right farming techniques; it also means teaching those techniques to farmers and suppliers up and down the supply chain. Agricultural innovations are useless if businesses don’t know how to implement them.
In Sulawesi we’ve been very busy teaching cocoa agronomists and suppliers from around the world about our methods of cocoa rehabilitation, best farming practices and the best ways how to transfer these technology to the cocoa farmers. Besides agronomists from Asia and Africa we are also getting visits from Pacific cocoa producing countries as Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Employees from Monpi, the Papua New Guinea business part of ECOM, one of the world’s major cocoa, coffee, and cotton suppliers and one of our supply chain partners, have made several trips to our Cocoa Development Centre in Sulawesi over the last three years. On their visits ECOM got to see firsthand what innovations Mars is making in rehabilitation of old cocoa trees, grafting of clonal materials, and establishing of nurseries and the effects that these strategies have on cocoa production. This support and training for ECOM are instrumental to reaching our goal of total sustainability by 2020. ECOM employees from PNG are now equipped to implement some of the strategies we showed them and they are doing a great work in the field with PNG cocoa farmers.
In Sulawesi we are also working with teenagers from local vocational schools who learn about how to manage cocoa in ways that lead to efficient production. Many of these kids are the children of cocoa farmers, so they bring the knowledge they gain back to their families, who can now make their businesses more profitable and more sustainable. Farming families are benefitting tremendously from implementing our practices. ECOM/Monpi agronomists from PNG have visited our Cocoa Development Center in Sulawesi three times and after our example in Sulawesi, they have also started to work with the local secondary schools in PNG with introduction of cocoa curriculum. Monpi has also established several clonal nurseries in different regions of Papua New Guinea and they are teaching small cocoa farmers how to rehabilitate their old cocoa blocks and their cocoa production, this way improving their income and whole economy of Papua New Guinea.
PNG is the biggest cocoa producer in Pacific region, however, Solomon Islands are the second one and they also requested to visit Cocoa Development Centre in Sulawesi to learn how to rehabilitate their old cocoa plantation and increase cocoa productivity. Last year, a small group of farmers from the Solomon Islands visited CDC and were so impressed with what they have seen in our CDC in Sulawesi and cocoa farmers around, that this year they brought to Sulawesi nine major farmers, called themselves “Cocoa Warriors”, for them to see these best clonal rehabilitation methods and results in the field. We are thrilled to share our farming techniques with our partners throughout the global cocoa industry. When farmers and suppliers implement the strategies they learn from us, businesses and consumers throughout the world reap the benefits. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.