The Gayo Highlands region of the Central Aceh is in northern Sumatra and is about as rural as you can get in Indonesia, it is a high plateau in the centre of the province. Bener Meriah Regency is located next door to the North East of Aceh Regency, and until 2003 was part of the Central Aceh Regency.
Permata Gayo was established in 2006, after the Aceh conflict which lasted until 2004 and destroyed coffee farms in the area. Farming was re-established, and in 2007 they had 468 members – growing to 2125 today. They have also gained Rainforest Alliance, Organic and Fairtrade certification.
The Fairtrade premium has been spent on 24 different projects within the cooperative. Just some examples of these are; creating a coffee nursery, building a cupping lab and employing 2 Q graders, training on how to properly compost, investing in grass cutters to help avoid the use of herbicides and supplying foods to members in the low season.
They also have a very proud tradition of Saman dance which originates from their Aceh province. They regularly perform this dance on special occasions and used our donation to pay for the costumes, which they previously had to rent for 200USD a day for 18 people – representing a huge saving and the ability to keep their traditions alive.
There are 39 villages in the Bener Marhia area, which represents about 20% of their membership in Aceh.