Objective 2 of the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) intends to foster the integration of a greater number of smallholder producers in performing and remunerative value-chains, by developing and implementing public private alliances that provide smallholder farmers with knowledge in cocoa management, as well as access to markets and services that secure higher prices for their produce.
The PPAP has developed a model approach that facilitates the realisation of the 3 project objectives. Our partners for objective 2 are building productive partnerships in the cocoa producing provinces, through a competitive grants scheme. There have been 4 Calls for Proposals:
- Call 1 commenced in the Islands Region in January 2012
- Call 2 commenced in the Islands Region in September 2012
- Call 3 commenced in the Momase Region in August 2014
- Up-scaling Calls 1 and 2 commenced in the Islands Region in November 2015
Some achievements for objective 2 are summarised below. More information is displayed in the sidebar.
Improved farming practices
The PPAP has developed a comprehensive farmer training programme that has delivered 982 trainings to 58,409 farmers (25% females) and distributed 19,763 tool kits. 8,036 farms are now adopting improved farming practices.
The training program involves:
- Lead farmers – each lead farmer is responsible for clusters of 25 smallholder farmers;
- Extension officers – each extension officer is responsible for 10 clusters of smallholder farmers (250 farmers);
- Training-of-trainers – lead farmers and extension officers are trained to deliver training, awareness and monitoring services to their respective communities (including best practice cocoa management, safe pesticide usage, sustainable livelihoods (farming as a business), basic record & book keeping, and financial literacy.
- Cross cutting issues – Bank South Pacific provides additional training services in financial literacy, and Red Cross & Mustard Seed Global provide health awareness and support services to the PPAP communities.
Quick and increasing returns
A recent study showed that PPAP farmers were receiving above average returns from their CPB tolerant and high yield varieties of cocoa. Over 85 percent of these farmers were demonstrating good management practice in their cocoa blocks.
As their cocoa trees matured, there was a corresponding increase in production and income levels. Average cocoa productivity of 4-year old clonal cocoa is 1,600 kg. dry bean per hectare. Some farmers are exceeding 3,000 kg. per hectare. This is a huge improvement on the national average of just 300 kg. per hectare.
Furthermore, these farmers were getting quicker than usual returns for their labour. For example, in the Islands Region 1-year old cocoa were generating as much as K15,000 annually, whilst cocoa at four years old were generating over K1 million kina (based on average 2016 wet bean and dry bean prices compiled by Cocoa Board). Most of the cocoa were sold as dry beans to exporter partners.
Low-cost bud grafting
Innovative cocoa farmers in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (AROB) have developed a low-cost bud grafting technique in reponse to the challenges posed by the lack of bud grafting tools and materials, as well as the high cost of producing cocoa clone seedlings using conventional budding knives and budding tapes. The 3 main advantages of the low-cost bud grafting technique are as follows:
- Low-cost – the technique involves the use of cheap kiwi knives and ice block plastics.
- Straight-forward – the technique is simple and fairly easy to adopt with proven success rate in AROB (similar to that of the conventional bud grafting technique).
- Home-based – the technique enables smallholder farmers to generate cocoa clone seedlings at their own backyards near their cocoa blocks, thereby reducing the high costs of producing and transporting cocoa clone seedlings from central nurseries.
Since the low-cost bud grafting technique offers smallholder cocoa farmers the best prospects for sustaining cocoa production, 6 bud grafters – comprising 1 lead trainer and 5 trainers from AROB – were engaged to undertake a 2-week training program at 22 locations in East New Britain Province. The following topics were covered during each 2-day training session:
- Selection of quality bud sticks from clonal trees in bud wood gardens and existing cocoa blocks at locations where no bud wood gardens were available.
- Waxing and wrapping-up of the bud sticks in moisten copra sacks to conserve moisture in order to lengthen bud grafting time and also for long distance transporting of the bud sticks.
- Field demonstration of the low-cost bud grafting technique by the trainer and dissemination of information on when to remove the budding tapes and aftercare.
- Practical hands-on training on the low-cost bud grafting technique by the farmers and trainees.
- Brief question and answer session on any aspects of the low-cost bud grafting technique.
A total of 1,982 farmers and trainees were trained (average 90 per location). Of these, 78% were males and 22% females. Participants included PPAP farmers (73%), non-PPAP farmers (14%), and youths and students (13%). Ninety-nine percent of trained respondents said they would use the low-cost bud grafting technique to produce their own cocoa clone seedlings; ranging from 30 to 3,000 cocoa clone seedlings (average 434 per respondent).
Smoke-free cocoa dryers
The PPAP is trialling the use of a 15″ stainless steel kiln pipe to address the smoke taint issue in conventional cocoa dryers and attract premium cocoa prices. The trial also studied the:
- Best temperature for drying cocoa beans.
- Best size for the cocoa drying bed.
- Number of days required to dry a full bed of cocoa bean mass.
- Number of fires required to dry a full bed of cocoa beans.
The study used a conventional cocoa dryer (16′ x 8′) with perforated aluminium tray. One complete 15″ stainless steel kiln pipe (18′ long) with a stub end and a length of stainless steel flue pipe (15′ long) was fitted. The study found that the 15″ stainless steel kiln pipe:
- Eliminates smoke taint in cocoa since there are no joints for smoke to escape through (unlike the mild steel kiln pipes).
- Conducts heat well – stainless steel heats up faster than mild steel and keeps the heat longer after the fire has died out. The fires must be carefully controlled to maintain the optimum temperatures, namely: 60OC in the kiln compartment, and 40OC in the drying bed to slowly dry the cocoa to give the best aroma and dark-brown chocolaty colour.
- Suits a conventional cocoa dryer (12′ x 8′) which are usually fitted with a 23” mild steel kiln pipe.
- Dries cocoa faster than mild steel pipes – 1.00mt of wet cocoa was dried in 2.5 days with a 15″ stainless steel kiln pipe (rather than up to 5 days using a mild steel kiln pipe).
- Uses less firewood – it took 5 well-controlled fires to dry 1.00mt of wet cocoa. The moisture content was maintained at 7.0% which was well within the required range (minimum of 6.9% and a maximum of 7.5%).