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Great Coffee in Common: Arca Ulian

A very special GCIC we are excited to be able to share with you, from a recent trip to Bali where we visited the lovely team at Arca Ulian Mill.  Country: Bali Region: Ulian, Kintamani Mill: Arca Ulian Farm land: 6 hectares Translator: Iwayan Arca     Interviewees: Iwayan Arca, Nyoman Sudani, Komang Widi, Wayan Risten, Nyoman Rongkai (Iwayan’s mother) Interviewers: Shaughan Dunne of Five Senses Coffee/Common Man Coffee Roasters, Pablo HWB of Common Man Coffee Roasters      INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPTION: Shaughan: So we’re at Ulian Murni, it’s a small village. 45 minutes from Ubud, about 30km. It is a farming community of 970 people, and about 150 hectares in size. It’s quite an organized and closed community/village. Coffee growing is one of the big industries here. Orange is the biggest source of income; coffee would sit just behind that. One of the things that we’re trying to show, people in coffee consuming countries really have no idea what goes on in coffee producing countries. We’d really love to get a snapshot of a day in the life of these ladies. How being a coffee farmer or coffee producer or worker of industry affects them. First question is, have they seen a lot of changes since they first started interacting with western or Australian coffee companies. What changes have they seen in the village and everyday lives? Iwayan: What she said is the ladies can have job every day but there are simple mind they have, maybe all they want is to buy rice for the family so they don’t have big…like they want to buy anything big like bracelet or necklace. They just want to support the family for the day. Shaughan: One of the big things that we see, and you can see in the body language here. The ladies are the power house of the coffee industry and they do a lot of work. But typically they don’t get spoken to a lot, as you can see they’re pretty shy. For them having links to outside coffee companies, has that improved the village, have things changed for them? Iwayan: They start to have money so they can start to go to the city because they have their own money. So probably they can go to salon maybe 3 months once for ceremony, to colour their hair cause it’s grey. It brings back the culture that in Bali it is the woman who work, and the man is the driver. All the money go to the man and man organize all the money. They are the car and the man is the one to drive. Car is just making power and the driver is the key. Shaughan: So do you want to go around to each of the ladies and just ask how much property they have and how much coffee trees they would have? Iwayan: She (Nyoman Sudani) has 30 ara, that’s 30 square meters and they can grow about 300 coffee trees. Wayan Risten has half a hectare. And don’t ask her (Nyoman Rangki), she has like 6 hectares. My mother has 6 hectares. Shaughan: And so over the years, have coffee become more important to the villge as you’ve developed relationships. Is coffee now a bigger part of a bigger percentage of income for the village? Iwayan: Now I think that orange is unpredictable. Can make very big money, but then some time people will come buying the orange but they don’t pay. But at least with the coffee, I organize all the selling outside. At least I’m 100% sure that their money is going back to them, because orange they sell on their own. But the coffee all comes to one place and everything is managed in one place. The good thing is we can pay them cash, every coffee they bring. I think in the future when the orange is not around and a lot of this is for rents too.     Shaughan: And a lot more chemicals? Iwayan: It make money on orange (for example) can be say 100 million IRP, then you gonna spend 50 million IRP just for chemical, fertilizer, labour and you have to spray them every two weeks. But on coffee you probably make 50 million IRP in say in one hectare, but you just claim money. You just need buy fertilizer that’s worth like 10 million IRP. Shaughan: For the ladies, is there anything they’d love to see change in the village? Or improve? Like what would they like to see happen here? Iwayan: Maybe these ladies, there’s not much they ask for. When I tell them the truth how much I sell the coffee, every time I sell more the coffee for I will can them extra on the sorting part. The sorting is hard for them. Shaughan: And in terms of the education of their children, the welfare of their families, all those sort of things, is there anything they’d like to see change here? Iwayan:  From the first grade on junior high school, that’s when the coffee start and she start to work for us here. She couldn’t put her daughter into school, plus she got one grandchildren and she doesn’t have a husband. And without the coffee, she couldn’t put the grandson into school. So basically yeah, everything is improved. Pablo: A more generic question, from the moment you came back and you started to bring back coffee or put more focus on coffee growing in Ulian, how big has it grown? From like number of families or number of people that want to grow coffee too. How much did it grow from when you started 6 years ago?  Iwayan: 3 years ago I start from zero, my dad only had one type of varietal, the Cobra (Colombian and Brazilian mix). Probably like 100 trees at the time, but he kept them because I said ‘please keep this one’. Basically they all start from zero.  Pablo: How many people in Ulian started growing coffee since 3 years ago? Iwayan: Last year (2017) everyone started growing coffee again, during the peak season I can prove to them that the price is worth it. It was from 3000 IRP per kg red cherry, last year I can prove to them it reached 9500 IRP on the peak season. Pablo: How many farmers do you have bring their coffee to you? Iwayan: Almost like 200 people. In Ulian mostly they bring it to 2 other mills, but in the end when they dried the coffee it will come to me. There are 3 mills in Ulian. They are small and maybe produce 500kg a day. They don’t have the proper drying beds or the drying house, so they can’t process but they still want to make some money because they’ve been in coffee so long and just want to do it. Shaughan: Are any of the ladies planting more coffee? Iwayan: They start again, we give them some tip if they want they can take from our one. We have some extra coffee trees. Shaughan: So most of the kids once they get through high school, most of the children will leave Ulian? Iwayan: Most, but some stay. Most of them will go out for work, for 3 or 4 years and they might realize that there’s more money at the village than in the city. Well actually there’s less money to earn here, but much less cost. Shaughan: How do the ladies feel about all the kids leaving the village? Iwayan: Basically they want their kid to go out of the village as soon as they can, they don’t want to see their kids wandering around the street and doing nothing. That’s what most kids do at the village because they don’t want to work on the farm, instead of doing that it’s better if they go out to the city. Maybe they’ll feel how hard the life can be there and they choose to come back. Shaughan: There’s not really many job opportunities here for young adults? So if someone is less schooled, there’s not many work opportunities here? Iwayan: There is a lot! But the dirty job, they need to work in the farm doing the coffee all day so there is no clean job in the village. There is clean job like a teacher but they need to pay for certificate to become a teacher. So if they don’t mind to get dirty, they can make money. Most of the kids want to look clean and tidy. Pablo: Other than coffee, what do the ladies plant and grow? Just name it out! Ladies: Coffee, orange, flowers, kidney beans, vegetables, chili, ginger, pumpkin, corn, lemongrass, bananas, durian, sweet potato, spices and more. Shaughan: I imagine they do all the cooking at home right? Does all their food come from the village? Iwayan: Mostly rice. They would buy fish or chicken outside, but the rest of it will come from the village. And all the spices come fresh. Shaughan: Is life getting better/easier in the village? Or is it getting harder in the village? Just in general.  Iwayan: A lot better. Now they eat rice, all they used to eat is sweet potato. That’s it. So now they can eat rice. They are the same age and now they check each other because they’re same age and they’re talking about how hard it was. When they were very young, they worked together at the farm. They were collecting – they didn’t even have a stove – they were collecting wood to make a fire. And they were collecting all the sweet potato and they cook. And they eat only that one, that’s it. It was hard to get their own food.  But before the community is always on one side, like if my mother have a job or work to do then everyone will come to her. If another lady have work then everybody will go to her, they don’t get paid, they don’t work for money. But they work like helping each other. My mother have work to do so all the ladies come to help her. And the next day maybe to another farm, since none of them have money to pay each other. So they work paying with their energy. Shaughan: What about, is it easier to educate their children now? Because schooling is expensive in Indonesia. Iwayan: It is easier now because they make more money now, but they spend more to pay for the school. Before a lot of them didn’t go to school. The kids will come back on a Saturday and leave on Sunday, so the ladies will give them money for the following week. They’ll come to the mill to work and will be paid 60,000 IRP a day, so 420,000 IRP for the week. Shaughan: So most of the kids for high school, have to leave Ulian. And they would board there, stay there, and come back.  Shaughan: When I bring all the ‘bule’ (foreigner) back for a big origin trip, what should we bring the ladies for presents? Iwayan: They make a joke, maybe just boil some sweet potato! Iwayan: The most that make them happy is jackets, or t-shirts. If you give them money, you don’t see their face changing. But once you give them t-shirts. This is for you, present. Then you can see the changes on their face. Or some woman jacket, no need brand but simple.   End.