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Permata Gayo (Sumatra, Indonesia)

Founded in 2006
Began exporting through Mandago (local exporter) in 2007
Certified Organic and FLO certified in 2008
Began exporting directly in May 2009
Members: 2,963 (4,500 hectares of land)
Region: Bener Meriah
Elevation: 1,000 to 1,500 m
Harvest Season: November to June
2010: 77 containers of coffee exported (approx. 3 million pounds)

Background and History
Permata Gayo was founded in 2006 in the Bener Meriah district of the Aceh Province in Sumatra, Indonesia.  Cooperative Coffees began importing coffee from Permata in 2009.  The characteristics of the coffee include a rich, leathery, and earthy body with a hint of dark caramel.

Cooperative Structure
After picking the cherries from the trees, the farmer members of Permata Gayo sell the cherries to intermediaries, called “collectors.” These men, who are also farmers themselves, occupy a chief-like position in the local farming community and become the de facto “collectors” – though they and the coop claim it is an “elected” position. The collectors de-pulp, ferment, wash, and dry the parchment down to 40% moisture-content. The parchment is then brought to private hulling centers where it is dried to 18% moisture-content after which it is sold to the coop from the collector, at a mark-up that he benefits from. Permata Gayo stores the parchment in a rented warehouse until it is loaded onto a truck and shipped to the dry processing plant (the final step before exportation) in Medan. Unfortunately, this system of collection not only adds cost to the coop; it also prevents the farmers from establishing a better, more direct connection with the coop to which they belong since they never actually come into contact with anyone directly linked to the coop.

Delegates and collectors represent the farmers at the general assembly and coop meetings. They are responsible for electing the Board of Directors who then employs the staff. Technically, the farmers within each village are supposed to elect the delegates and collectors for their respective village. In many cases, particularly for the election of the delegates, this model works successfully. However, the election of the collectors is less clear and more often than not, the same collectors are “elected” year after year. For farmers to feel more connected to their coop, the system needs to be improved. Armia, the manager of Permata Gayo spends half of his time living in the region of Bener Meriah (the other half working on export logistics in Medan, 12 hours away) and hopefully, the coop will take measures to increase its visibility in and connection to the community over the next couple years.

Permata occupies a small office in Bener Meriah which they are planning on expanding. They also have a brand new lab, fully equipped with a sample roaster, high tables, cupping spoons, cups, etc. The parchment that they purchase from the collectors is stored in a warehouse that they rent from Mandago, the private exporting company who they used to contract for exporting their coffee. Mandago no longer uses the large and modern facility, except to rent it to Permata.

In Medan, they dry process the parchment in a private facility called Prima Harapan which owned by Fatima, the sister of Permata’s current manager. Permata contracts the service for this last step of preparation for export.

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