Concerning Coffee Farmers’s Welfare in Indonesia

Concerning Coffee Farmers’s Welfare in Indonesia

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Among the numerous luxuries of the table … coffee may be considered as one of the most valuable. It excites cheerfulness without intoxication; and the pleasing flow of spirits which it occasions…is never followed by sadness, languor or debility.

-Benjamin Franklin

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The statement by Benjamin Franklin has perhaps become more meaningful with time. Little did he know that 200 years later, people would not only continue to enjoy coffee but that coffee would become a trendy beverage marketed and enjoyed in all parts of the world.Because of its popularity, coffee has become one of the highest traded commodities in the world.

Indonesia’s tropical climate produces almost ideal conditions for planting coffee. Cultivation dates back to colonial times and began in western regions of Java.  Ever since the Dutch East India Company launched shipments from Batavia (Jakarta) to Europe in the early 18th century, coffee was an export commodity first and foremost. The Dutch Colonial then expanded the coffee plantations to East Java, Central Java,  Sumatra and Sulawesi.

Today, coffee distributes in almost of islands of Indonesia and make the country  the 3rd largest producer of coffee in the world. Home coffee consumption grows significantly in recent years along with expanding middle class, and their growing taste for coffee. This is supported by the growth of retail coffee outlets, including independent shops and retail chains such as Starbucks and Indonesia’s Maxx Coffee and Excelso Coffee. Coffee has been a part of life styles for many people of middle class in Indonesia.

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Farmer’s Welfare

Today, nearly 10 milion people in Indonesia (around 2,5 milion families) depend on coffee farming. Although coffee consumption both in Indonesia and around the world grows significantly, it is hard to expect welfare growth of coffee farming Indonesia due to the price fluctuations at the farmers’ level. Farmers gain only around 19-22% of the total price of a cup of coffee. They  hardly have bergaining power in coffee industry mainly steered by big distributors or exporters. Thus the farmers appeal government’s intervention to replace exploitative global market relationships between producers and consumers by more ethical practices that provide greater economic benefits to coffee producers. For that purpose, government should empower the comperative that can serve to strengthen farmers through unity and to promote sustainable agricultural practices that raise their bargaining power in the industry.

Rini Nur Adiati

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