What The Cocoa Farmer Does And Better Ways To Help The Farmer
The farmer is largely in charge of his own income, and what he does effects what he earns. Like any small business, if he/she runs the farm smartly and invests time and energy, the result can be double the productivity and annual income of another farmer who neglects his crop most of the year and only deals with it at harvest time. Most of us have had some experience with apple trees and the people who own them, and have seen some who take care to prune, water, and thin crops before harvesting their apples, compared to others who don't put in the time, effort, or take the same care.
The following basic farming activities are true for any crop and also true for cocoa.
The Farm - Held By Private Owners
- The farmer family is the owner, and most own the land outright
- Most cocoa farms are small plots of land, ranging from 2 to 4 hectares
- The style of farming runs the range: from a no human intervention style of farming, where the only work occurs when harvesting the ripe cocoa, to an intensive farming style that attempts to optimize yield per hectare and revenue per hour/hectare worked
Stewardship And Care For The Trees - Proper Tree Care Could Add Up To 40% Increase In Yield
- Weeding – reducing competing crops or trees
- Soil nutrients and compost
- Reduce cost of unnecessary and unproductive inputs
- Removing diseased pods before they affect others
Harvesting - Complete And Timely Harvest With Proper Fermentation Could Add Another 20% Increase In Farm Revenue
- Harvesting at optimum bean size and ripeness
- Proper fermentation
- Sorting defects and small beans out
- Proper dryness
Grafting and Varieties - With Same Acres And Same Tree Count Could Increase Production By 25%
- Could graft on more vital variety
- Research in recent years has identified some varieties with better yields and greater resistance to disease
- To speed those varieties into productive years, they can be grafted onto existing root stock
Overall yield for most of the world cocoa crop could be increased by 100% given the same acres and number of trees. The combination of good farming practices and good post-harvesting practices, in almost all cases, can double a farmer's income. So as the issue of how to make a better livelihood is discussed, one cannot ignore the fact that the farmer's income is largely in the hands of the farmer. If one studies the yields per hectare in various countries around the world, it is plain to see that in certain countries the output-per-hectare is double that of other countries.
The WCF Cocoa Livelihoods Program (WCF/CLP) increases farmer income while strengthening local service capacity, through three main objectives: Improve market efficiency and build capacity of farmers and farmer organizations; improve production and quality of cocoa at the farm level; and improve farmers’ competitiveness on diversified farms. Key activities include: professionalizing farmer organizations (recordkeeping, operating and cash budgets, leveraging resources); increasing access to inputs and improved planting material; providing financing mechanisms for improved access to credit; farmer business skills training; and business service centers.