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Empowering Small-Scale Coffee Producers & Cooperatives in Gayo Region

LWR began working in Indonesia following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, addressing emergency and long-term development needs. Indonesia is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries with millions of people affected annually by earthquakes, landslides, floods and tsunamis. LWR currently implements projects in the agriculture, emergency operations and climate change /disaster risk reduction sectors in Indonesia.

The Project

Indonesia’s Gayo region, with its abundant rainfall and fertile soil, is recognized globally for the market potential of its high quality Arabica coffee.

While coffee cooperatives are expanding to help meet international demand for Gayo coffee, not all are succeeding in the international marketplace.

Despite increased international interest, organizational and technical issues have limited the ability of cooperatives to take full advantage of the international market. And, a perceived lack of transparency among cooperatives led buyers and social lenders to exercise caution when investing in regional coffee production.

In many areas of Gayo, farm production lags behind other regional players in this competitive market. Many coffee producers also lack the skills and resources needed to improve cultivation practices, negatively impacting their income and the cooperatives’ ability to meet buyer demands.

LWR aims to help farmers improve coffee quality, increase productivity, improve access to capital and become stronger business partners, all leading to a better life for farming families.

Empowering Producers & Cooperatives

December 2012 – May 2013

  • In December 2012, LWR began a collaboration with Fair Trade USA on its Gayo Coffee Success Initiative, supporting coffee cooperatives in building business acumen, strengthening market linkages, increasing access to financial capital and certification and improving crop quality.
  • Following an assessment of the project in January 2013, LWR and Fair Trade USA identified innovative approaches to better meet needs and expectations of participating producers.

April 2013 – April 2014

  • By more directly involving producers in training and cooperative development, LWR began the Gayo Coffee Producer Empowerment Initiative, reaching more than 2,700 producers from two coffee cooperatives—Permata Gayo and GLOC—to better address producer needs.
  • To strengthen the capacity of coffee cooperatives, LWR provided training and technical assistance to 72 people— including 55 delegates and 17 board members, staff and cooperative management members.
  • LWR and Fair Trade USA also worked to improve farm management and crop cultivation through promotion of pest control, soil management, use of organic fertilizer and employment of value-added postharvest management techniques. More than 630 farmers received training from 95 cooperative delegates who attended LWR’s training of trainers.
  • To inform soil management training, the project tested soil in 24 locations, allowing trainings to be tailored to the geographic location.
  • LWR and Fair Trade USA piloted farm-level interventions— including group production of needed organic fertilizer and collective wet mill processing—to bolster producers’ ability to increase the value to their coffee.
  • To ensure ongoing market and credit opportunities for producers and their cooperatives, the project facilitated visits by buyers and social lenders to participating coffee cooperatives.

April 2014 – December 2016

  • In addition to working with Permata Gayo and GLOC, LWR and Fair Trade USA’s work expanded to include two additional cooperatives: Ketiara, a women-run group, and KBQB.
  • To strengthen and empower cooperatives and help them overcome perceived weaknesses, the project includes additional trainings on cooperative good governance with group management, staff and delegates.
  • Nearly 300 additional coffee farmers have been trained in Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) leading to economic and environmental sustainability for farmers and their communities.
  • The project is supporting the development of information, educational and communication materials for producers to increase their knowledge of cooperative structure and management as well as Fair Trade certification.
  • To build the capacity of producers in farm management and coffee production, LWR and Fair Trade USA are developing a curriculum and conducting six Train the Trainer sessions focused on conservation, soil management, organic fertilization, pest and disease control and micro-finance opportunities for 120 cooperative delegates.
  • The project also supports the collective production of organic fertilizer and operation of two wet mill processing facilities at the village level.

Future Plans

  • LWR and Fair Trade USA expect the current project approach to serve as a model that can be replicated with cooperatives operating throughout coffee-producing areas of Aceh and North Sumatra.