Tomorrow is Independence day for Indonesia. 17th August, 1945- 64 years since the country unified and gained independence from the Dutch. As a visitor I have been privileged to have lived in the country and seen how progress has been embraced in many cases, rejected in others. The coffee revolution, or specialty coffee revolution to be more exact, is a fairly recent development in the scheme of things. Coffee was one of the harsher plantation systems the Dutch practiced during the Colonial period. Cultivation was forced upon many of the Javanese in particular. Paying “taxation” in coffee crop enriched the plantation owners, impoverished the locals. As a result after independence there was a stalling and general stagnation in the coffee sector. Even today most of the coffee exports are still done by brokers who have simply taken the place of the old Colonial masters. The sector has so much promise, yet it is very slow and somewhat reluctant in embracing the changes that are sweeping the coffee world.

My wish for Independence Day, Hari Kemerdekaan, is that the small-holder awakening will continue. Farming communities are rejecting the traditions of 400 years. The future after 64 years is bright, although the struggle to free farmers from the traditional binds will continue for decades to come. Happy Independence day Indonesia. Merdeka!

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Comment by Joseph Robertson on November 30, 2009 at 9:13pm
Alun, the work you are doing in Indonesia in direct support of the farmers / former slaves is second to none. It seems almost all coffee growing regions save for maybe Aus and HI are third world and behind as to coffee farming politics and economics in the same way as you discribe Indonesia. In 2007 when I attended my first SCAA world convention in Long Beach Ca. I realized the global connection we all share with the farmers of coffee. I knew at that point that all I am doing now with my business development is for the soul purpose of at some point connecting with the farmers face to face and doing what I can to further bring them up so a fair share gets back to them.

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