Gayo dedicates revitalized coffee industry in Gayo highlands

Jakarta (Antara News) - Dignitaries gathered in the Gayo highlands outside Takengon on February 10 to celebrate the dedication of a coffee plantation project that will revitalize the premium coffee industry of Central Aceh, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam province, a statement said.

The renovation of the coffee plantation and processing plant is part of a US$ 10 million development project funded by the U.S. government through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Embassy said in a press release here.

Suryadharma Ali, Minister for Cooperatives, Small and Medium Scale Businesses, and other guests toured the coffee plant, which will become the province`s business center for the production of premium quality and certified organic coffee.

The plant is owned by the Baitul Qiradh Baburrayyan Cooperative Society (KBQB), a registered cooperative made up of 5,000 small coffee producers.

"We are looking into the future of this province and see that it is full of potentials," said U.S. Government Representative Tom Morris. "We are committed to working with the farmers in building a a long term relationship and expand their products to the international market," the release said.

Funded by USAID, the coffee project was managed by the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) of the United States - an organization with years of experience in cooperative business development in Indonesia and expertise in the specialty coffee industry.

USAID partnered with NCBA to upgrade the coffee-farming and coffee processing infrastructure in the region, the release said.

Under the project, which was launched in 2005, the KBQB has expanded its farmer-based membership from 39 to 5,000 in just one year. With training provided, all the members are now internationally-certified organic producers of high-grade Arabica coffee.

The project also offers expertise and equipment to assist in quality processing and international marketing of the cooperative`s coffee.

So far, the cooperative has sold 720 metric tons of quality Arabica coffee at permium prices to specialty buyers in the United States.

The USAID/NCBA project also rehabilitated coffee blocks that were destroyed during 30 years of conflict in the region. It also facilitated the creation of a new cooperative, known as Koperasi Kredit Maju Bersama, which provides local farmers with micro-credits to help them upgrade their coffee-growing and production facilities, the release added. (*)
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