Due to the current pandemic, the Fairtrade certified coffee producers in the Gayo Highland region of Indonesia have been facing multiple economic and social challenges on the ground. The lockdown in its export destination countries especially in the Europe and America further contributing to the decrease in the sales of Fairtrade coffees from the region, leading to the local price crash at the farm level. The farm gate price has reduced by 30-40 % as compared to the same period last year. This has put pressure on the SPOs to extend their supports to members, mainly in the form of food and medical essentials to help them cope up with the crisis.
Pic: Remote Support Service to Koperasi Kopi Gayo Organic (KKGO)
All the coffee SPOs in the region have made a participatory decision to shift the Premium fund allocation from the agreed Fairtrade Development Plan (FDP) to the Crisis Mitigation Plan. To ensure the shifting, planning, and implementation of the fund took place according to the Fairtrade Standard, the SPOs requested for necessary guidance from the Program Consultants.
Though certification advisory service is a regular activity for the Consultants and owing to the travel ban, the service is provided remotely instead of physically, it however requires an equal time investment and preparation as before the pandemic.
The use of technology that facilitates communication and service delivery has been challenging. Internet connection has been a real constraints and the capacity of the SPOs’ boards and staff is not equally met. WhatsApp is the most familiar communication app that has been used for a long time, however, this is not enough in coping with a greater need to deliver a training or real-time online discussion. The Program Consultant has introduced the SPOs board and staff to Skype to accommodate these needs. It is extremely rewarding to see that the beneficiaries are very enthusiastic to learn about the usage of new tools to overcome their challenges.
Combining Skype and WhatsApp application helps the service delivery without undermining the results. Training the members from Ratu Ketiara Gayo cooperative on the ‘Production and Environmental Practices’ was the 1st training provided through these mediums and it was highly appreciated by the SPO.
Additionally, advisory support to new applicants and several other SPOs for audit preparation and closing the NCs were also provided using the same medium. Due to lockdown and nationwide call for work from home, the over usage of internet connection is unavoidable, resulting in a slow and disturbing connection in general. In overcoming this, follow up communication through email is often an alternative.
The remote services extended to SPOs in this region so far has resulted in the completion of:
- The completion of the remote online audit for 03 SPOs with fewer NCs.
- 1 SPOs had its suspension status lifted, 2 SPOs successfully close their NCs and got their contract extended with Fairtrade.
- 02 potential applicants are ready to submit their applications once Flocert starts its normal certification and audit process.