AKAR TANI COOPERATIVE
BANTAENG, SOUTH SULAWESI
One of the very first Village Forests in Indonesia is located in Patteneteang,
covering 146 ha of community forest. I am a coffee farmer and the Production
Coordinator for Akar Tani Cooperative. I learned how to grow coffee since I was
Coffee has been the source of livelihood for our community since the Dutch
colonization era. Bantaeng at that time was known as Bontyne. However, in the
1990s clove was introduced as the most viable alternative source of income.
Farmers changed their production from coffee to clove, even though our area
was not suitable for clove. For the past two years, we had no harvest for clove.
Today, coffee remains the main livelihood for farmers.
Limited market alternatives and low prices have been the main challenges for
farmers. Often, village traders practiced “Ijon System”, giving cash to farmers
before the harvesting time, and making deals on prices, which were much lower
than the market price. Pricing was uncertain and our bargaining power was
Besides the market challenges, farmers also faced a decrease in the
productivity of coffee, as their on-farm management techniques were not strong
(example as shown in this picture, no pruning for the tree).
In 2016, I started to address these challenges when I was involved in Akar Tani
Cooperative, which is also supported by RECOFTC and RAFT. The cooperative
was established by BALANG, a local CSO. Farmers can become members of
this cooperative. It offers about IDR2000-3000 higher margin compared to the
traders’ price. It’s quite a significant increase for farmers.
The Cooperative is processing coffee into green bean and selling it to roasters
in Makassar, who supply coffee shops in the city. Farmers are encouraged to
improve the quality of their coffee and their practices. For example, during
harvesting, they are taught to pick only red cherries. During the post harvest
period, farmers are encouraged to use a simple green-house, rather than drying
the coffee on the street.
If we would like to encourage more farmers to be
interested in business, training and capacity
building are fundamental. I am grateful to have
been selected to attend the training on business
development. I found the session on business plan
development particularly interesting. As a farmer, I
have never developed a business plan and also
cash flow. Now, I know how to calculate production
costs, loss-profit projection, start-up capital to start
a business, including risk management. I also
learned to seek more market opportunities. I never
thought our coffee could reach a wider market.
I also want to share my knowledge with youths from my village. Often, they are
not interested in farming. Many graduate from high school and university, yet
they are unemployed. That is why I started a Farmers’ Group, involving more
youths. Our aim is to provide business opportunities and encourage them to
learn organizational and business development skills to start up their
We are trying to promote Daulu coffee as the
signature coffee from Bantaeng.
In South Sulawesi, everyone knows Toraja coffee.
We want people to also know Bantaeng coffee.
I participated in several local and national exhibitions and
events. I realized that the coffee market is huge! My
confidence increased and I felt proud when people in the city
liked the taste of our Daulu coffee.
Akar Tani Cooperative always shares the story of how our
coffee planted with the agroforestry system contributes to
conserving the forest, while at the same time providing
livelihood to the people. I want people to know that when they
drink our coffee, they are supporting our village and
The Distrcit Government supports us and it has built a Center for coffee
processing. Trade Department provides us with equipments, Cooperative
Department warehouse. We can use the facilities to process coffee in a larger
scale. We will also collaborate with the Tourism Department to develop eco-
tourism for coffee in Village Forest.
There are still some challenges, for example provision of quality seedlings. We
asked for coffee seedling but we got corn. We also experienced getting the
coffee seedling that were not suitable for our area. We planted them for 3 years
but no result. We cut and changed the tree again. Therefore we are now in
discussion with the Farming and Plantation Department to develop quality local
Another challenge is accessing finances to meet the high demand from
potential buyers. The Cooperative has requested support from BLU (a forestry
financing agency from the Central Government). Even though, the requirements
are many and process is long as this is new experience for us, we are already
in the final step and potentially to get the financing by next month.
Getting this financial support will just be the
first step. We need capacity building on
how to run our business sustainably in
order to support our families, our
community, and protect our forests.