The coffee farmers in Bajawa face similar challenges with marketing organic commodities. The three farmer groups that I met in Ngada district, a coffee production centre in Flores, said that they faced much the same difficulties as the rice farmers in Mbay.
Organic coffee farmers in Ngada are spread across two subdistricts: Bajawa and Golewa. Both lie at the foot of Mount Aimere and produce the speciality coffee Bajawa Flores Arabica. They already farm organically. They have a well-defined market. One of their buyers is a coffee exporter based in Sidoarjo, East Java, which regularly buys their coffee. Bajawa Coffee is exported to Europe and the US. Unfortunately, payments from the buyer are sporadic. As of last week, payment had been made for only one of four deliveries.
Marselina Walu Wajamala, a farmer in Radabata, Golewa says that around IDR 30 million is owing to farmer groups. Most of the farmers sell their coffee through farmer groups as a part of their collective marketing schemes. Marketing collectively, explains Marselina, gives farmers access to a more certain market and higher prices. "But if they aren't paid, the group members start to distrust us," she says.
Marselina says that the farmers would be more confident about selling their coffee through the farmer groups, if they could be paid cash in hand. But to do that, the groups must have ample working capital. Having limited resources, it is not easy for the farmer groups to access credit from the government or the bank. That is what Marselina and her colleagues are working towards now – getting access to finance directly from the bank. But there is still a long way to get to get there.
Anton Muhajir, VECO Indonesia