Better returns on coffee

Indigenous Papuan organic coffee growers
With Oxfam's support, indigenous Papuan coffee growers are beginning to receive a fair price for their organic product.

Deep in the remote, mountainous valleys of Papua, several thousand indigenous farmers are growing high quality organic arabica coffee. Chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides are not used, making the coffee rare and valuable.

With the support of Oxfam, these growers are starting to get a fair price for their coffee from national and international markets. Many densely forested highland areas are accessible only by foot or air, so the coffee has to be flown to the port of Jayapura for export.

Papua produces around 230 tonnes of coffee each year, with the figure set to rise as new operations are founded and Fairtrade practices are established. This will provide significant benefits to local growers and their families who rely on coffee for their livelihood.

Great coffee, fair price

With the support of Oxfam, the Papua Arabica Marketing Enterprise (PAME) helps indigenous Papuan coffee growers. Along with funding, Oxfam has distributed several cultivation tools and several very simple peeling machines that remove the red skin of the coffee beans.

Coffee skinning machine
Simple coffee peeling machines have been built and distributed, increasing efficiency and harvest yield.

The peeling machine is simple to operate, easy to maintain and significantly speeds up the production process – in the past, growers had to peel the beans by hand. Use of the machine increases the weight of the harvest, as there is less waste, which in turn increases the growers' household income.

Based in the Nabire region, PAME buys coffee beans from three affiliated producer co-operatives. The beans are processed and quality controlled by both the producer co-operatives and PAME. Samples of green beans have been sent to two Indonesian laboratories, which confirmed that the coffee is of a high quality. The coffee is distributed in the large Indonesia cities and is exported to several countries.
The beans are sold to specialist coffee buyers, including a roaster in Jakarta. Primarily, PAME seeks to get the best possible price for the coffee producers themselves. The enterprise seeks to make the local industry self sufficient, self managed and sustainable.

PAME has trained local farmers in sustainable production methods, encouraging them to rejuvenate the coffee trees that have become unproductive. The farmers are shown how to look after their coffee trees and to maintain the fertility of their farmland.

The project will improve livelihoods and income security, and will provide sustainable access to the coffee market. It will establish a sustainable and profitable business enterprise in the long term.

Papua coffee production
Selling roasted rather than green coffee beans means a better price for growers as quality can be assured.

Roast vs green

The Papua Arabica Marketing Enterprise prefers to sell roasted rather than green beans. Because PAME buys beans from farmers who use traditional growing methods, quality control in terms of how the beans look is difficult and the product could be rejected by buyers. The margin for green beans is low and buyers require vast quantities. When roasted, the beans can be sold based on their taste and aroma; they can also be branded and legally protected according to the features of the product. The trading price of green beans is set and there is limited room for negotiation, whereas the roasted product commands a higher price as determined by the producer and PAME.

Key achievements

  • PAME has established a production facility with warehousing, drying, sorting, roasting, cooling, grinding and sealer machinery.
  • Staff have been trained about marketing and all aspects of the coffee business.
  • 60 per cent of coffee farmers working in PAME are women, and 60 per cent of PAME board members are women.
  • PAME has gained a food certification to allow sales into the Papua market.
  • As of June 2010, PAME has received almost two tonnes of coffee beans from indigenous coffee farmers. The target is 4.5 tonnes.
  • Indigenous coffee farmers have been taught to rejuvenate the coffee trees and to operate the peeling machine.
  • Oxfam has distributed several cultivation tools and a very simple peeling machine.
  • PAME has sold 200kg of green bean products with its own packaging to coffee producers, and coffee grind to organisations and retailers within the Papua market.