Papua is famous for its fertile land and the richness of its natural diversity. However, many of its agriculture potentials are still unlocked. The answer to unlock these potentials might be found in the demography of its people. As much as 60 percent of the people in Papua are farmers and fishermen. Therefore, the micro economy strategic development should be focused on those segments of community. Much like the Pilot Project of Cocoa Cultivation in Papua.
Papua has been introduced to cocoa cultivation through the pilot project of cocoa cultivation in Papua in 29 pilot cocoa plantations. These pilot plantations have been started in three regencies in Papua since three years ago. The three areas are Keerom, Sarmi, and Jayapura regency. The average plantation that will be opened reach up to one hectare, and each plantation will be managed by one group consisting of 20 to 40 farmers.
The pilot projects of cocoa cultivation in Papua will be opened in three cocoa center areas to increase the cocoa production that has rapidly decreased since 2008 up to 2015. In the end of 2007, farmers can still produce 9,400 tons of dried cocoa beans, but in December 2015, the cocoa beans production only reached 2,164 tons.
This pilot project is initiated by four institutions, whether government and non governmental. They carry out joint cooperation in chocolate cultivation project in Papua, which are the Provincial Plantation Agency of Papua, Papua Acceleration development Agency, Ford Foundation, and Ecom Cacao Corporation.
The main purpose of the pilot project of cocoa plantation in Papua is to give training and to motivate the farmers in cultivating cocoa as one of the superior commodities in Papua. The farmers can get two benefits from the pilot project, which are learning seedling methods and cocoa cultivation from experienced instructors. The pilot project also enables the farmers to get seedlings without needing subsidize seedlings from the local government. Moreover, the farmers’ motivation can improve because they have mastered the correct cocoa cultivation.
The support to cocoa farmers does not stop until pilot plantation development only but also covers assistance. The pilot project of cocoa cultivation in Papua is also aiming to make institutional entity in villages that can manage the seedlings, plantation, up to cocoa marketing to companies without the help of assisting parties.
One of the Chief of Farmers Group in Sarmi said that the farmers have become motivated to continuously cultivate cocoa after the assistance and the pilot project cocoa plantation. They even plan on opening a four hectares cocoa plantation using seedlings that are taken directly from the pilot plantation.
Kusnan Arief, the Coordinator of Assisting Officers said that Sarmi also had a decrease of cocoa production. The production in 2014 was only 15 tons, despite having almost 4,000 hectares of land.
The cocoa production decrease was due to the lack of knowledge of the cocoa farmers in cocoa plantation and pest prevention. With these programs, the farmers are optimistic that the cocoa production in Sarmi can improve. Hopefully, Papua with its excellent chocolate quality can one day become a household name for good quality chocolate, whether nationally and internationally.