Permata Gayo Co-operative, Sumatra, Indonesia

The story of Permata Gayo began in 2006 amidst the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami and following the 2005 Helsinki peace agreement between the government of Indonesia and the Free Aceh Movement of Aceh Province, North Sumatra.

The co-operative began as a group of 50 founding members organized by a local exporter, Mandago International. Currently it serves approximately 2000 members in 36 different villages that are located in the Bener Mariah region. As capacity has grown, so has the desire to become more independent as a co-op run by its members. As a result, they ended their relationship with Mandago International in 2014 in favour of processing and exporting their coffee on their own.

Fair Trade co-operative organizations in Sumatra are notorious for their lack of democratic process, corruption, and inappropriate use of the Fair Trade social premiums. Permata Gayo is one of the few that are striving for better. When Just Us! visited Sumatra in March 2014 we witnessed participatory democracy in action at the Annual General Assembly, improved transparency within the co-op, as well as the beginnings of some concrete projects like a tree nursery, compost facilities, and improved processing plants coming from the social premiums and partnerships with NGOs. In addition, a food program is in place to ensure ample rice for members during the “lean” months when money is scarce before the next harvest.

Just Us! purchases coffee from Permata Gayo together with Co-operative Coffees, a co-op of 23 coffee roasters from the United States and Canada.

Co-operative: Permata Gayo
Country: North Sumatra, Indonesia
Date Established: 2006
Members: 2000
Social Programs: Member Food Program, agricultural improvements