Interview with Cahya Ismayadi, researcher in post harvest technics
What exactly is post-harvest?
Post-harvest is the second step of the cocoa production after the farmers grow on the field. Without any good practices in the post-processing, in the post-harvest handling, you cannot produce good chocolate later on.
What are the different steps in post-harvest?
The first post-harvest steps include harvesting and handling the pods on the field. We have to separate inferior pods from good pods and then take theem into the processing center. Then we take out the beans, put them in the fermentation boxes, then in the drying system and finally we do the packaging of the final product.
What about fermentation?
Fermentation is a key step. Without any fermentation, we cannot get good cocoa flavours. Whatever the cocoa species - forastero, trinitario or criollo - fermentation is key. We have developed a methodology of the fermentation process. We promote the stair system: it is good for the flavour and easy to handle.
Do you have any news about your research?
In terms of research we did some development of the processing, like the drying system and the fermentation system... For instance, we are developing the use of controlled microorganisms during fermentation. The problem is the difference between the laboratory and what the farmers do. There are millions of farmers in Indonesia, so, it is very difficult for us to teach them one by one.
What does quality mean in cocoa?
We can not separate between the physical quality and the organoleptic quality. What ́s the meaning of quality of cocoa in our mouth, in our nose? In terms of the quality for cocoa, flavour is included . We can not separate!
What is the link between quality and production?
To me both terms, quality and production, are important. So, we do research for breeding. The new breed of cocoa must have good productivity, yield and flavour. The bean size, for instance, is very important in cocoa: not only for the production system but also for what the industry wants.
How can we keep the production sustainable?
Cocoa production needs energy, and energy means resources, so, we have to conserve the land and also the farm. This is beneficial not only for the company, but also for the environment in general. We recommend the shading system for cocoa, because it provides the farmers other income like banana or coconut. Mixing cocoa trees with other plants is good for conservation of the land.
How is the production affected by climate change?
The climate has big changes, it feels hotter than 10 or 15 years ago. We have to be careful for climatic changes, especially for our cocoa production, because it brings new diseases and new pests. I think because of the climatic changes the world is getting more aggressive.
How can we reduce climate change? By growing more trees. Any plant we grow improves the environment, locally and globally as well.
What does cocoa mean for you?
Cocoa to me is... something that cannot be separated. I have been working for the Institute in terms of the research for more than 30 years. Cocoa to me is my life!