By recognising the quality of their products, farmers will work harder to produce the best quality.
Today, all coffee exporters demand that farmer produce good quality coffee. Coffee quality is assessed not only from its physical appearance, but also its taste. However, until now only the exporters have done the cupping, because it requires specific knowledge and expertise.
It is the dream of VECO Indonesia and its partners in commodity chain development to increase the knowledge and skills of farmers in one focus chain. This includes building the farmers' competence in coffee cupping. The aim is that when farmers sell their coffee to exporters, they will already know what it tastes like, so they can negotiate the price for the coffee they are selling.
To this end, for the past two years, VECO Indonesia and its partners Perkumpulan Masyarakat Watuata (Permata) in Bajawa and Koperasi Serba Usaha Asosiasi Petani Kopi Manggarai (KSU Asnikom), have been providing cupping test training.
The aim of this training is not that farmers have expertise in coffee cupping, but that they can differentiate the taste of the coffee they produce from coffee produced in other regions. Also, so that the farmers understand what they have to do to produce coffee that tastes good and that consumers like.
This year's training is different because the farmers from Ngada are being trained separately from those in Manggarai and East Manggarai. The aim is to train more farmers and enable more farmers to know what their coffee tastes like. The participants are not only VECO Indonesia supported farmers but also people from government and exporters.
The first training on 8-10 September 2014 in the Mataloko parish hall in Ngada attracted 25 participants. At the second training on 11-13 September 2014 in Unio Kuwu, Rutent, there were 33 participants.
This training was facilitated by the Indonesian Speciality Coffee Association ASKI, with facilitators Agustinus Tasi from Jakarta and Jhon Chendra from Makasar.
The facilitators confirmed that throughout the training, the participants were very enthusiastic and motivated, and asked lots of questions. The participants now recognise that coffee which is processed properly, from the time it is harvested to when it becomes coffee beans, will produce a better tasting coffee that consumers like. The participants recognised that the farmers have paid little attention to processing. By focusing only on the physical aspects, they produced coffee that did not taste nice and was not to the liking of consumers.
At the end of the session, the participants said that they hoped training like this would continue, to make more coffee farmers aware that good processing produces good tasting coffee. The aim is that when they send coffee samples to prospective buyers, the farmers will have already done cupping tests. That means buyers will not be able to try to cut the prices they pay by claiming that the samples they were sent did not taste good.
The hope is that the negotiating position of the farmers will improve and they will be able to set commodity prices themselves. [Fransiska Rengo, VECO Indonesia Coffee Chain Field Officer in Flores]