In late June Cokelat visited Tapporang village in Pinrang region to see a group of women who took the initiative to promote business in fermentation. What have they really accomplished? Here is the coverage.

As we all know, fermentation activities to improve the quality of cocoa beans have not been carried out by most Indonesian farmers. But a group of women in the region of Pinrang, apparently well aware that these activities could potentially increase their income.

A group called Jaya Mandiri started to engage in fermentation since the first quarter of 2013. Jaya Mandiri actual purpose was to create an activity that attracted the attention of many female farmers. Before this, they had been conducting a process turning water hyacinth into compost for cocoa plant. It was a success. Then they thought, what other activities could be beneficial for them. “After studying here and there, we decided to do the fermentation,” said Rosmini Mansur who appointed as the chairperson.

A Ton in Two Months

Jaya Mandiri itself is a combination of four groups of women in the area around Tapporang. The merger was intended to achieve more and more result of fermentation that can be sold to the buyer. But why choose fermentation? Women in Tapporang apparently was pleased with activities that require patience without having to sacrifice a lot of time. “Men are less painstaking, they have many excuses when asked to manage the fermentation,” said Rosmini, laughing.

In Jaya Mandiri office there are six large boxes for fermentation. Bukit Tinggi group, other group under the guidance of Jaya Mandiri, has planned to make 10 boxes, while the group at Sejahtera village already has six boxes.

These fermentation boxes are made by each group consisting of 25 people. To make one fermentation box can cost Rp. 500.000,- mainly to buy nails, worker consumption, and other materials that cannot be provided by the members. Due to high cost of manufacture, the wood should be taken from member donations. Box-making process is usually done by the women, “But when it comes to use the chain saw, we submit it to the men,” said Rosmini smiling. Rosmini says that wood is still the most expensive raw material in making the boxes. Lowest quality alone can cost Rp. 35.000,- per sheet, while the good one can be up to Rp. 50.000,- per sheet. ”So we were grateful with the donations, the production costs can be reduced,” said Rosmini. When asked whether the quality and type of wood affects the fermentation Rosmini replied, “Not really. But low quality wood tends to brake easily.”

Since April 2013, fermentation products processed by these women have been sent four times to an international buyer who has made a selling contract with the group. Meanwhile the fermentation standard and quality is determined by this buyer which also acts as a supply chain manager. At first, the group managed to sell as many as 284,5 kg of fermented cocoa bean, after which they sell on average about 200 kg. “So we’ve sold almost a ton within two months,” said Rosmini proudly.

Maintain Certification

According to Rosmini, fermentation activity is actually one of the ways to maintain certification they have run for four years, as well as to increase price of cocoa beans they sell. “The price of cocoa beans in this region is still lower than Polewali Mandar,” told Rosmini. Therefore Rosmini and friends wished for further guidance, not only in fermentation, but other activities that may improve the quality and quantity of their cocoa beans.

Various training and demo plot given by the AMARTA program were quite helpful in increasing the production and productivity in Pinrang, although Rosmini as a chairperson of the group claimed that she still does not understand very well about traceability. Tapporang women also do not want to do things by the book, they expect more practices on the field. “We do not want theories,” said Rosmini representing her friends.

At the end of conversation Rosmini says that she and her fellow farmers will not give up until they produce high precious cocoa beans. They reflect on the experience of Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC),who had tried more than 730 frying techniques, before he finally got one which later became his signature. “By trying a variety of ways, KFC is now everywhere. We believe, that starting with fermentation, cocoa beans from Pinrang can also be sold anywhere,” said Rosmini.