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Her eyes are like strawberry, as passion fruit is the mantle. Quiet on velvety pads, precious as her dense forest. We are all from the same world, no one should be left behind.
The 320 members of the Koerintji Barokah Bersama Cooperative live and farm on a plateau that sits at the foot of Mount Kerinci on the island of Sumatra. Mount Kerinci is one of the many volcanoes in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometer horseshoe- shaped series of 452 volcanoes that are part of an almost constant dance of eruptions and plate movements. Mount Kerinci’s historic eruptions have assured that the surrounding area is lush and verdant thanks to the deep supply of fertile volcanic soil.
The cooperative is managed by Triyono, who leads members in processing and roasting their own coffee. They have a fully outfitted roasting facility, including a cupping lab, next to the dry mill. This is especially impressive considering the cooperative was founded in mid-2017!
Almost all farms on Sumatra are small. On average, farms are between 0.5 to 2.5 hectares. Coffee is usually the primary cash crop for farmers, but most also intercrop their trees alongside vegetables, potatoes and fruit. This intercropped produce will make up a substantial part of the family’s diet for the year.
In addition to growing coffee as a cash crop, many smallholder farmers also work at hired laborers at the nearby tea plantations. Tea is also a huge crop in the area. The bigger tea plantations are often near coffee farms. When the harvest is finished, coffee farmers will go there and pick leaves under contracted labor.
There are more and more initiatives by farmers on Sumatra to organize themselves into cooperatives. In the past, farmers did not have much leverage to help themselves get better prices for their cherry or parchment. When they’re in cooperatives, they can share resources, organize training and negotiate better prices.
During the harvest season, coffee is handpicked, with labor usually supplied by the immediate family. After picking, the coffee will be delivered to a UPH collection center.
Triyono oversees the activities on and around nine UPH stations owned by the cooperative. A UPH is a collection center where coffee cherries are bought by the coop and where the coffee is processed before moving it to the central mill. Essentially, a UPH functions as a small washing station.
With this Anaerobic Natural lot, coffee is first floated and separated by density before being laid on raised beds where workers remove underripes, overripes and damaged cherry. Then, ripe cherry is collected again and sealed in airtight, 20kg plastic bags that are stored in a cool, dry location (with temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees Celsius) for 7 days.
After 7 days, cherry is again laid on raised beds to dry. The beds are located in domes that protect the coffee from rain or harsh sunlight. The parchment will dry here for around 20 to 23 days, or until it reaches approximately 12% moisture content. When dry, the coffee is milled and sorted by hand.
Contributing farmers receive 9,500 rupiahs per kg of cherry. The result is that members of the coop have a fixed buyer for their cherries, and the profit of the coop at the end of the year is either invested in infrastructure to upscale quality or is shared with the producers. Farmers also receive technical support and seedlings for shade trees for on and around the farm. To join the coop, a producer pays a one-time membership fee of around 400 dollars (5 million rupiahs). To streamline the operation, there is an agriculturalist providing technical assistance to make sure the standard operation procedures are applied while processing at the different stations. Each UPH is located in a different area and receives cherries from different farmer groups.
ANDUNG SARI, SIGARAR UTANG
KOERINTJI BAROKAH BERSAMA COOPERATIVE
VELVETY & DENSE
STRAWBERRY & PASSION FRUIT
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