In September a container with 15.9 tons of Indonesian coffee entered the port of Antwerp. What makes this coffee so special? Not only did it win several awards, but thanks to an ingenious business model the coffee also contributes to the recovery of the rainforest on the island of Sumatra.The coffee is the result of years of focus on quality improvement by the farmers of the Koerintji Barokah Bersama Cooperative (KKBB) in Indonesia. For example, local farmers improved quality control by moving the sorting and packaging activities. As a result, they reduced the time needed to prepare the coffee for export. Exposure to heat and humidity was also minimized.
From coffee-newbies tot award winnersThe fact that the Barokah cooperative is able to deliver top quality is no less than a small miracle. The cooperative was only founded in June 2017 and has grown exponentially since then. Partly thanks to the assistance of Rikolto.
After all, the ONG - which is supported by OVO - helps local farmers to develop their capacity. "We also provide coaching in the area of sustainable agricultural practices and finding buyers," says Kiki Purbosari of Rikolto. These efforts have paid off: the coffee has already won several awards. "In our first year, we won the Specialty Coffee Contest in Jakarta".
Payment for ecosystem servicesBut what really makes the story of this coffee remarkable is the business model behind it. Farmers are compensated not only for the coffee they supply, but also for their efforts to preserve the rainforest. The region where they grow the coffee is one of the most heavily deforested regions in Indonesia.
"It's not enough to tell the farmers to stop logging, you have to give them a livelihood," Rikolto says. "That is why we focus on the diversification of crops and the application of good agricultural practices. That way they don't need any extra surface area.
This can only work if the farmers are recognized and compensated for their efforts to preserve the forest. That's why Rikolto and the Indonesian government jointly developed a Payment for Ecosystem Services model: a cost-effective way to compensate indigenous communities, landowners and farmers for environmental maintenance and the provision of ecosystem services.
Shade treesIn October, for example, the farmers will plant 600 shade trees on the coffee plantations. Because ever since they apply good agricultural practices, they notice that some species of birds are returning to nest in the shade of the coffee trees. "We're pleased to see that our efforts to grow coffee sustainably contribute to a healthier environment. This is something we continue to promote to coffee farmers", concludes Triyono, leader of the Barokah cooperative.
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