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Deep in the heart of the Eastern Highlands Province lies a land of rugged beauty and untapped potential. The peaks of the Kratke and Bismarck Ranges soar to 3700 masl, while the Asaro and Lamari rivers flow through dense tropical rainforests. This land is teeming with an abundance of fauna and flora and is particularly known for its diverse plant species. But beyond its natural beauty, this region holds a hidden treasure - the potential for high-quality coffee.
For smallholder farmers in the remote villages of Lufa and Okapa, coffee is the lifeblood of their livelihoods. They grow as few as 20 trees in their gardens, alongside the crops they rely on to feed their families. But for these farmers, the road to success has been long and difficult. Access to proper equipment and sorting facilities has historically been unattainable, and economic instability has stifled progress.
But there is hope on the horizon. Enter Maureen Ken, a local businesswoman with a mission to build confidence and long-term relationships with these rural producers. In 2015, she established Lass Malo Coffee (LMC) with the goal of providing accessibility and quality support to the region.
By providing a convenient bridge for producers to sell their coffee at a value-added price, LMC is helping these smallholder farmers realize the true potential of their harvest.
To achieve these higher standards, great care is taken in farm management, harvest, and post-harvest practices. Smallholders hand-pick, wash, and float cherries to clean and sort only the perfectly ripe selections. The cherries are hand-pulped the same day and then go through a fermentation process before being washed with clean water to remove the mucilage. The coffee is then moved onto raised beds to dry under shade for 3-4 days. Once dried, the parchment is transported free of charge by LMC trucks to their new and expanding dry mill facility in Goroka.
LMC is committed to continuous improvements and has plans to expand its facilities and grading systems in 2022. This will not only increase the quality output and return on investment for these hardworking rural communities but also bring a bright future to the region. Our partners at Upstream are proud to support LMC by sourcing and supplying green grading equipment, and as corporate members of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance of Australia, they are committed to supporting female exporters like Maureen as they strive to improve the quality and consistency of their green coffee exports.