I am visiting the Lake Toba region in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, to meet with small-scale coffee farmers who want to join Fair Trade. Most of the participants in the meetings are men but a few women joined one of the meetings.
In this region, a lot of the work in coffee fields is actually done by women. Fair Trade requires participatory and representative leadership and, in this case, Fair Trade will require that women form part of the leadership farmer group (the Fair Trade committee) that will gather input from other farmers (and their spouses) on where to focus the Fair Trade premium and will implement the projects funded with the premium.
The Fair Trade farmers committee, with the support of local NGO’s and a exporter, will gather information from all the farmers to understand what are the most important issues that Fair Trade could support (for example: better access to water, better access to healtcare, etc). Then, the farmers committee will create a Fair Trade plan that will address those issues with the future Fair Trade premium.
We hope that this new program will help improving these farming communities and will bring closer these farmers with the consumers who buy their coffee.