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Coffee farmer in Papua - Jubi

Revitalising Moanemani coffee in Meepago, Papua


Nabire, Jubi – Yayasan Pembangunan Kesejahteraan Masyarakat (Yapkema) continue to encourage coffee farmers in Meepago region to intensify their production through a revitalisation program supported by the Village Community Empowerment Agency (BPMK) of Paniai Regency.


The revitalisation program called ‘Gerakan Menanam Kopi/Coffee Planting Movement’ has involved at least 2,090 local farmers from 209 villages to participate in a series of training on coffee planting, maintaining, harvesting and processing.


Director Yapkema Hanok Herison Pigai said he wants local farmers to continue to grow coffee in Meepago. According to him, local farmers can develop their business in coffee, from cultivating crops to producing coffee beans.



“The coffee market continues to grow either at local or national levels. Emerging cafés in every corner in Nabire, for instance, is evidence. That’s why we encourage local production,” he told Jubi at his café on Wednesday (12/8/2020).


There are at least ten cafés established in Nabire City, known as the ‘City of Gold’.


Previously, the Meepago Region was famous for having a distinctive “Moanemani” coffee in the 1990s. Moanemani is the capital city of Dogiyai. At that time its coffee production was booming to break the local market. Unfortunately, because its distribution depended on air transportation only, it cannot be sustained. High shipping cost is the reason.


“Moanemani coffee cannot be sustained due to spending discrepancy between expenditure and income, and it has been happening for more than 20 years. It is obviously detrimental for local farmers. So, the main issue is the strategy of marketing,” said Pigai.


As such, many farmers then neglected their coffee plantation. Some even alternate their soil to plan another promising crop.


But the current situation has changed. Coffee becomes a new idol. Its market potential continues to extend, from local, national to international. The demand for coffee continues to grow, and the number of coffee lovers has continually increased.


“For that reason, Yapkema encourages revitalising coffee production in the Meepago region because we see business opportunities,” said Pigai.


Moreover, these opportunities for local farmers are not only limited to harvesting coffee berries, according to Pigai, because coffee read peels can be processed into a tea by separating its peel with bean to sell separately. Another alternative is to open a café selling a local product, et cetera.


“Such opportunities must be taken,” he said.


Pigai is not only talking but implementing what he said by initiating coffee plantation. Within a year, the Enauto Coffee Processing Unit owned by Pigai has produced 4 to 6 tones of coffee beans, while the total production of local farmers in Dogiyai Regency reaches 12 tones a year.



Enauto Café 


Pigai does not want the old story of Moanemani coffee to reoccur in Meepago. He tried to anticipate this by expanding the market to accommodate coffee production, in particular local production. Therefore, Pigai, who is also a nationally certified coffee trainer, opened a café named “Enauto” which means “the best” to promote Moanemani coffee.


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Local cafés and coffee farmers are expected to introduce and promote to the public, in particular coffee lovers, that Paniai, Deiyai, Dogiay and Nabire regencies are Meepago Region as well as the centre of local coffee production.


“Through these cafés, including Enauto Café, the promotion of local coffee production continues to be carried out to ensure our coffee beans are sold out in the market,” he said.  


Therefore, according to Pigai, café become part of a lifestyle of coffee lovers as well as a place to promote the local product to youth. As such, the problem of marketing in the 1990s can be solved.


Currently, Moanemani coffee enthusiasts cannot only taste it in local cafés in Nabire but also in other regions outside of Papua and overseas, such as the USA.


“With great revitalisation campaign of coffee plantation and emerging cafés, it raises promising business opportunities in this sector,” he said.


Enauto Café has operated for almost four months. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic that hit the entire world, including Papua, this café is still operating and running well. It’s always busy with visitors, young people and elders.


Apart from being a place for hangout and discussion, Enauto Café is utilised by students for online study as it has an individual room with free Wifi.


“Free Wifi is deliberately provided to accommodate students or pupils in preparing their assignments remotely, therefore, they can enjoy a cup of coffee while doing their assignments,” he said.


According to Pigai, the daily income of Enauto Café is still Rp 500 thousand. It is obviously impacted by the current pandemic situation. However, he is optimistic that it will change after the pandemic is over.


In the meantime, Andreas W. Martani, 53yo, said he enjoys spending time at Enauto Café because its location is strategic. He can stop by twice a day for coffee. What he likes most is the café’s ambience for relaxing after the entire day’s work. He also appreciates Pigai whom he thought started his business not only for profit but also to contribute to the empowerment of indigenous Papuans.



 “Pigai is one of the Papuan entrepreneurs who has proved that this is time for indigenous to become masters in their land,” he said.


 Business Opportunities 


Pigai entered this business because he wanted to change the mindset of Papuan young generation. With an educational background in economics, Pigai had been a secretary of the regent, but he decided to leave his job as a civil servant to start his business.


“I want to change the mindset of young people that becoming a civil servant would have a good future. I want to show them that being a civil servant does not always guarantee to live well and prosper,” he said.  


It is because he thought there are many opportunities to grab besides working in the government sector, while the role of government to create job opportunities and strategic space for youth is still limited.


For instance, he thought entrepreneurship or vocational training centres for youth are required in preparing the young generation in starting their business. He also thought the government has not yet developed a strategic program that enables youth to access financial support.


“Access to information on business knowledge needs to create. That’s what I observed happening in Paniai, Dogiyai and Nabire,” he said.


Moreover, according to Pigai, especially for Papuan youth, mainly those who come from the Meepago Region, if they want to become entrepreneurs, they can start a business in coffee. Although coffee is not the only promising business opportunity.


“Papuans have spared land in their hometowns, but keep it untouched,” he said.


Apart from coffee, there are other commodities worth cultivating such as green vegetables and carrots.


“All depend on our intention whether we want to work or wait for a miracle to come from the sky,” he said.


He then took an example of farmers in transmigration areas who have to rent the land for gardening, while indigenous Papuans have their own property.


In the sector of coffee, said Pigai, there are many job opportunities. Besides planting coffee, we can also involve in the product processing, such as to process the red peel into tea or work in the warehouse to measure and store coffee supplies, or become a roaster or a marketer, or to open and manage a small café.


“Those are some opportunities in the coffee business. There are also opportunities in other businesses. Do not be trapped into something that you do not want,” he said.


What he means by the unwanted situation is, he referred to himself when he was a civil servant, getting an order from someone else. While if you have your own business, you are free to tell everyone to do what you want. (*)

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