As the world’s third largest cocoa producer, Indonesia is home to more than one million farm households who depend on cocoa as their main source of income. On July 1, in conjunction with the international cocoa industry, the country launched a program to improve the Aceh cocoa sector -- an area that provides income for 90,000 small cocoa farmers who are recovering from the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami.

PEKA (Peningkatan Ekonomi Kakao Aceh) is a three-year program that will increase and improve revenue, productivity and quality standards of Aceh’s cocoa. Located in the northwestern tip of Sumatra, Aceh has a population of about 4.5 million and includes more than 10% of Indonesia’s farmers.

Swisscontact, the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation, is leading the consortium of international NGOs implementing the PEKA program. Plans include training on farming practices to improve yields and developing local business services to provide farm inputs such as seedlings, fertilizer, pesticides, tools and capital for cocoa farmers.

Other contributors to the program include the World Cocoa Foundation, which will coordinate a cocoa research scientist fellowship program; Mars Incorporated, which will provide its latest research to Aceh cocoa producers; and UK Armajaro, which plans to facilitate direct purchasing from farmers to cocoa processors and manufacturers.

For more information, see details of Swisscontact’s programs atwww.swisscontact.or.idor