Indonesian Coffee Stories: Reje Gayo

Meet KSU.Item Reje Gayo

“Reje Gayo” is a cooperative group of farmers located in the central Aceh region of Sumatra, Indonesia. These farmers work together to ensure export of great quality coffee beans for equitable wages. A portion of the proceeds from Pure Origin‘s Indonesian coffee goes towards supporting this collective as they seek to improve their farms and the region around them.

Conditions used to be quite poor, but since forming the collective, farmers work in teams. Together, they prune, clear weeds, and fertilize coffee plantations to ensure future success for all its members and their families.

“This activity will always be repeated every year by farmers to maintain the continuity of production expected by [the] farmers,” said a representative from the collective. “Maybe in the future, [we] will not rule out the possibility of cooperative items. Reje Gayo will make a planned nursery to replace old coffee plants and also as a learning process for member farmers.”

Prior to the formation of the collective, he said, the farmers struggled to obtain Fair Trade prices. This made it difficult for them to provide for their families.

“We farmers had never done anything like this before,” said the representative. The limitations on our ability and the information we had obtained so far had made us very pessimistic about this activity.”

Taking Great Strides

In the years since, the region has made great strides in cultivating the land in a sustainable fashion. As they do so, they also profit from their hard labor.

“We can feel the changes,” the representative said. “We have achieved profits, and even though it is not yet perfect, our economy has started to improve along with increasing our knowledge in increasing productivity in our gardens. Compared to the current situation, the change in my thinking, my attitude, my life, my economy is a lot different than in the past.”

He said farmers in the collective generally begin their work days at 7 in the morning and work until noon. At that point, they break for lunch and prayer and continue into the afternoon and evening, as the season requires. Farmers meet often to discuss their experiences and share what they have learned as they go.

“The thing we love most is when we are invited to come to the cooperative for new information or to have a meeting or to get a notification about training on coffee cultivation techniques,” said the representative. “It is very satisfying and the selling price is also very good. It is one of the moments that we look forward to.”

However, providing for his family remains the most important benefit of working with Reje Gayo.

“What was amazing for me was that I was able to deal with some of the issues that came into my family’s life [since joining the cooperative],” he said. “The unexpected [thing] was my financial ability to finance my family’s life, from the day-to-day expenses of my child’s education.”

The Importance of Support

When asked to address potential buyers, the representative underscored the sustainability of the coffee they produce in the Aceh region. He also noted the difference it makes for the individual farmers and their families.

“As coffee buyers, especially with export quality [coffee], [buyers] must at least consider the sustainability of their source of income,” he said. “The coffee revenue we produce comes from the care and support of a number of parties, and cooperative can present a recognized product in the international world. It is only natural for coffee shoppers to buy products that our farmers produce because there are benefits to [us]. The products that we produce are the products that everyone and the coffee lovers in the world expect.”

The representative also stressed the immense pride they all feel, working together to create quality coffee.

“It is a pride we cannot express in words,” he said. “It is only happiness that we feel as a farmer, as we have become aware of the needs of the people and we can provide a product that people from other [areas] rarely do. The quality is enough to impress our home region; the area of the Gayo plateau was not known [before this].”

Work Left to Do

Despite the improvements, he added Reje Gayo has a lot of work left to do. The group needs continued support , as a result.

“Our hope is that, as a coffee farmer from Gayo, not only to get here, but to know that there is more work to be done for the sustainability of such a program,” he said.

You can support Reje Gayo by purchasing the Pure Origin Indonesian coffee. A portion of every sale goes towards the philanthropic efforts in Indonesia.

Thank you for empowering growers at origin! With every story read, cup poured, and coffee sipped – you’re connecting with the world. 
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