The Role of Boron in Sustainable Intensification of Smallholder Cacao Systems in Sulawesi, Indonesia

We implement a project that adds value and strengthens activities of IPNI, Cocoa Care and fertilizer industry partners in sustainable intensification of cacao production systems. Specifically, we execute a three (3) year project to support cacao on farm research and market development on Boron (B) commencing in August 2016, in Soppeng, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. The project will help quantifying the effectiveness of balanced fertilizer applications that include B to increase cocoa farm productivity, improve cacao bean quality and increase cacao farm income in a typical Indonesian small-holder cacao farming system, and develop a model for rapid up-scaling of the findings to other cacao growers. The results will strengthen an existing IPNI Cocoa Care project with smallholder cacao farmers in South Sulawesi.


22 May 2017

2016 Annual Interpretive Summary

The overall purpose of this project (from 2016 to 2019) is to strengthen current efforts on sustainable intensification of cacao production systems using boron (B), and thereby increase the yield and profitability of smallholder cacao production systems in Indonesia and elsewhere. The current research enables farmers and the fertilizer industry to benefit from strong markets for cocoa. The project also facilitates effective agronomic nutrient management in intensive cacao smallholder production systems through the development and deployment of 4R Nutrient Stewardship practices related to B.

The planned on-farm trials will include B nutrition in the nutrient management protocol with 15 smallholder cacao farmers in the Soppeng/Bone area. Smallholder farmers will be identified and integrated into ongoing IPNI Cocoa Care work. These cacao farmers will be trained both “in class” and “in field” on how to implement good agricultural practices on their farms for maximum productivity. Where necessary, dead or non-productive cacao trees will be rehabilitated or replaced with the best available planting materials. Soil, leaf, and fruit sampling will be undertaken within the farms to identify nutritional and other soil needs. The concept of 4R Nutrient Stewardship will be used to implement the nutrition program. There will be three treatment areas: (1) good agricultural management practices, but will not receive fertilizer applications (GAP only); (2) good agricultural management practices and fertilizer application including Boron (GAP fertilizer + Boron); and (3) good agricultural management practices and fertilizer application excluding Boron (GAP fertilizer - Boron).

The 15 farms have been selected and farm mapping and tree rehabilitation have been completed. Farmers received training at the Mars Cocoa Academy. Soil and tissue base line sampling have been conducted, and samples are being analyzed. Fertilizer recommendations have been developed, and fertilizers ordered. The first application of fertilizers will take place with the onset of the rains in early 2017.

Importantly, this project will demonstrate to farmers the benefits of good agricultural practices, including fertilization with B, thereby providing motivation to growers for management change.