In North Sumatra, Indonesian Coffee Producers are Reaping the Benefits of ITFC-Funded Trainings

Indonesia is the world’s fourth-largest coffee producing nation. More than 95% of Indonesia’s coffee is produced by smallholder farmers working an average farm size of less than one hectare, and low productivity rates of only 700 kg/ha. Indonesian coffee producers are encouraged to shift their focus from producing high volumes to producing better quality and higher value coffee. But improving production quality requires investment in inputs, skills, and processing.

To address this issue, ITFC has partnered with PETRASA and SCOPI, the Sustainable Coffee Platform of Indonesia, to implement a program that aims at enhancing the quality and yield of the coffee industry in North Sumatra. Overall, over 350 coffee producers benefited from capacity building between 2018 and 2019, out of which 40% were women.

A post-evaluation conducted in 2020 found that the capacity building interventions have increased the adoption of good agricultural practices among beneficiaries. The evaluation compared the Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) adoption rate of beneficiaries with a control group. 

The use of high yields seedling among beneficiaries reached 35%, while the control sample is only at 21%. The highest gap can be noticed in weed control, where 84% of the beneficiaries reported practicing weed control compared to only 9% of the control group. Similarly, 68% of the beneficiaries practiced improved harvesting techniques by applying selective harvest while only 4% for the control group.


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A Farmers’-to-Farmers’ Approach for Increased Outreach
Mesta Capah, a member of the farmers group of Ulanadenggan is one of the women farmers who benefitted from the training. Following her participation, she improved her coffee field by practicing sanitation, coffee rejuvenation, composting, making trenches (rorak), and replanting the HY coffee seedlings. “My coffee plants look better and more productive. This experience made me more confident in developing my coffee farming business,” she says. Besides, as a farmer trainer, she followed trainings on public speaking, community workshop facilitation and technical aspect of coffee cultivation. Mesta added that “this kind of "farmer to farmer" approach is very effective. By using local language and easy terms, the discussion among farmers is more fruitful, and the farmers are more enthusiastic about learning. Women must play a key role in disseminating knowledge”.
Organic Farming for Enhanced Sustainability
The use of chemical fertilizers has reached alarming levels in the project’s Tanah Karo and Dairi districts and has led to a sharp decline in soil quality. The ITFC funded program introduced farmers to the production and use of organic fertilizers and promoted good agroecology practices through integrated pest control management. Farmers were trained to utilize available resources such as ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, fruit leaves, etc., to be processed as an organic pesticide used to control pest attack.

Since his participation in the training, Tarihoran, consistently practices organic coffee cultivation. “Transitioning towards organic farming is challenging for farmers in the area, as we are used to chemical inputs such as pesticides, herbicide, chemical fertilizers. However, I was determined to apply organic farming fully. The training I joined has opened my perspectives that using locally available organic materials such as falling leaves and branches of coffee, combined with livestock manure, can reduce the cost of purchasing fertilizers. Using organic materials, produce better coffee bean, and the harvest takes place throughout the year. Usually, with chemical fertilizers, there was a period when the harvest would not happen.”