Coffeefarmers in the Gayo Highland
The idyllic village of Wih Bersih is situated in the district of Aceh Tengah at an altitude of 1200 up to 1600 m a s l on the terraced grounds of a volcano. It is surrounded by its coffee plantations and lies in close neighbourhood of vast intact montane rainforest, covering the top of the volcano. The coffee farmers of Wih Bersih were our first partners!
In 2012 we started with 40 farmers and today there are 75 of them with around 53 hectares of Arabica coffee, mainly Tim-Tim and Ateng coffee varieties. Our first coffee farmers were organic-certified in April 2014. Wih Bersih literally translated means «clean water». Thanks to the intact rainforest, Wih Bersih profits of pristine water. The biodiversity on this plantation is high, also because the farmers plant a variety of shade trees such as the legume Lamotoro as well as avocado, mandarin, jackfruit, durian, papaya, banana and cinnamon.
Umang Isaq, which means “Uncle Isaac”, came to the project in July 2013 as our second partner. The village is located in a picturesque scenery in the district of Aceh Tengah more than five hours drive from Takengon, the capital of Gayo-Highlands.
This region has a special history. During the Aceh civil war, it was a secret retreat of the Aceh independence fighters. This led to a conflict with the Indonesian army, resulting in the expulsion of the local village community. Only after the end of the civil war in 2005 the coffee farmers gradually returned and took care of the neglected plantations.
The coffee plantations are situated at a height of 1000 to 1400 m a s l. Actually we are cooperating with 33 farmers, all together cultivating 38 hectares. The location of these plantations is special, because there are no other coffee plantations in the neighbourhood.
The small village «Mekar Indah» («beautiful blossom») is an offshoot of the village Wih Bersih and its coffee plantations are adjacent to those of Wih Bersih at a height of 1200 to 1600 m a s l in the district of Central Aceh. Since 2015, the Orang Utan Coffee Project partners with 22 farmers who cultivate an area of 17.7 ha of coffee plantations, mainly Tim-Tim and Ateng varieties. Village culture and coffee cultivation in Mekar Indah are hardly different from those in Wih Bersih.
The name “Panji Mulia” means “noble victory”. We are not aware of the origin of this name; perhaps a fight took place here? These coffee plantations are located in the district of Bener Meriah at an altitude of 1300 to 1500 m a s l. The Orang Utan Coffee Project partners with 40 coffee farmers, who cultivate an area of 25.5 ha of coffee plantations. The varieties grown here are Arabica Ateng and Tim-Tim.
The peculiarity of this farmer group is that it originates from Javanese immigrants, who worked in Dutch tea plantations in colonial times. “Panji Mulia” is the first farmer group that does not belong to the predominant ethnic group of Gayo. This is a valuable contribution to an ethnic balance within the Orang Utan Coffee Project.
The majority of this peasant community belongs to the community of the Gayo people.
We are working together with 40 coffee farmers at this place.. They manage a total of 44.5 hectares of coffee plantations at 1200 – 1400 masl here. The Arabica varieties Tim-Tim and Ateng are cultivated here as well.
Compared to the other groups, coffee is not cultivated here for a long time. Until recently the Robusta cultivation prevailed, and until today the farmers themselves prefer Robusta, but they sell the Arabica, which brings a higher proceeds.
Since a long time, coffee cultivation has provided the livelihood for this community.The plantations are located at an altitude of 1100 – 1300 m a s l in the district of Bener Meriah. We partner with 17 coffee farmers who cultivate a total of 19.6 ha.
The most common Arabica varieties found in the area are Tim-Tim and Ateng. The village of Uning Bertih is embedded in a charming landscape at the foot of Mount Burni Kelong.
District Kayu Aru, Regency of Kerinci, Province of Jambi
Kayu Aro lies in the Central Sumatra Province of Jambi southeast of the Gayo Highland.
Here coffee cultivation does not have a long tradition, as Kayu Aru is in fact famous for its tea of world famous excellence. But here in the neighbourhood of Kerinci Seblat National Park vegetable farming is predominant.
For one year, Orang Utan Coffee has been partnering with Dr. Sukianto Lusli and his company Tropical Agro. Since 2009, the biologist and renowned conservationist succeeds in convincing independent smallholders to turn away from vegetable farming and start growing coffee. However, mixed cultures remain the rule here, and cabbages are still growing between the coffee trees, which is not so well seen, as the routine of agrochemical input in vegetable farming is hard to break. With the support of Tropical Agro, the farmers planted more than 800’000 coffee trees over the last couple of years. The first harvests were made in 2014 and the 2016/2017 harvest has yielded 1080 tonnes of beans of highest quality (Grade 1) from around 628,000 coffee plants. Conversion to organic farming represents a challenge, which is presently tackled.
Opposite to the Gayo farmers, the Kerinci coffee farmers sell their unprocessed red berries to the company Tropical Agro, where the berries are processed for export in a newly built, modern facility. Thus quality management becomes much easier. Most of the coffee gardens are located at the foot of the volcano Gunung Kerinci in the surroundings of Kerinci Seblat National Park.
The Kerinci Seblat National Park
With an overall expanse of almost 14,000 square kilometers (more than 1/4 of Switzerland), this is the largest National Park of Sumatra, stretching over four provinces of the island: West Sumatra, Jambi, Bengkulu and South Sumatra at an altitude of 200 to 3805 m above sea level.
The highest plateaus of Sumatra spread on the Bukit Barisan Ridge, a mountain range that stretches over the whole of Sumatra with more than 30 active volcanoes. The highest elevation is Gunung Kerinci with 3805 m a s l, a stratovolcano, active until today. The park is also famous for its hot springs, rivers, caves and the highest crater lake of Southeast Asia. About 4,000 plants have been found here, among them the largest flower in the world: Rafflesia arnoldii. The critically endangered species Sumatra tiger, Sumatran rhino and Sumatran elephant, as well as clouded leopard, tapir and the Malay sun bear still occur, as well as a variety of 370 bird species.
The frequent illegal encroachments on the national park, such as tree-felling, establishing of illegal plantations, etc. should be reduced by the new coffee plantations, as the farmers get a much better income from coffee than from vegetable farming. First successes can already be marked.