How Indonesian Coffee Farming is Closing the Gender Wage Gap
Indonesia is not the world’s largest exporter of coffee, but its coffee industry is nothing to scoff at when it employs millions of coffee farmers annually. Coffee farming is a profitable industry in Indonesia. The Asian nation has an ideal climate for coffee bean growth and has had incredible coffee output, averaging the production of more than 600,000 tons of coffee or 4 million bags. International aid organizations are beginning new initiatives and investments to solidify economic stability, decrease poverty rates and end gender disparities.
Indonesia’s Gender Disparities and Poverty
Indonesia is notorious for its patriarchal attitudes and the U.N. has ranked Indonesia 85th out of 149 countries for its gender wage gaps. Its ranking is among the highest of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), with women earning less than 60% of their male counterparts, despite often having the same levels of education.
Indonesia has widespread economic gender disparities, which could make women more likely to live in or fall into poverty than the male population. Data from the Central Statistics Agency recorded that in March 2022, at least 9% of Indonesia’s population lives in poverty. To combat the poverty rates that put women at a disadvantage in comparison to Indonesian men, women are seeking out jobs in sectors with greater chances for a steady and reliable income, mainly in agriculture.
According to a Springer Journal study, women lack access to training for sustainable farming practices, marketing and managing businesses connected to the agricultural sector. However, crop yields and production would likely increase by 2.5-4% if women were to integrate into the agricultural workforce. By 2018, 49% of Indonesia’s agricultural workforce consisted of women. Without them, agricultural stability would decrease, with the rural economy losing significant income and poverty rates increasing.
Indonesian Coffee Farming Practices
Agriculture is one of Indonesia’s three dominant business sectors. In 2021, it was responsible for 13% of the nation’s GDP. Agriculture has historically been one of the primary sources of income for Indonesians. Indonesia’s agriculture sector is a crucial global producer, with coffee as one of its critical exports. Since the 1960s, Indonesian coffee farming has steadily grown and expanded to offer more and more job opportunities for farmers nationwide.
Indonesian coffee farming occurs mainly on small shareholder farms. Small shareholder farms are beneficial as they safely sustain the economy of the rural populations, help with expanding markets and protect natural resources. Protecting natural resources is especially helpful as Indonesia relies on its agricultural systems.
This farming practice involves renting or not owning a great deal of land on which the coffee is grown. Coffee plantations cover 1.24 million hectares and small-shareholder farmers operate more than 90% of Indonesia’s coffee farming land, according to Indonesia Investments. Each farmer works on only one to two hectares. The small sizes of the farms might not seem impressive, but the reliability of the farms entices investors worldwide. Indonesia’s government works to revitalize the land at any sign of slowing output and international aid organizations work to keep Indonesian coffee farming a viable option for jobs, especially as women take more jobs in the sector to end the wage gaps.
Female Coffee Farmers Taking Indonesia By Storm
Women are integrating into the coffee workforce at an incredible rate and are working as small shareholder farmers. Even though female farmers lack formal training, in some regions of Indonesia, they are 80% of the coffee farming workforce. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) began working with Indonesia’s female coffee farmers to train them to improve their productivity and increase their income. Working on a flexible schedule, the IFC trained 1,600 women and helped open new loan businesses that cater to Indonesia’s coffee farming needs. The number of female coffee farmers trained rose to 27%, up from 16%, and productivity and income improved by 92% on average. Helping female coffee farmers improve their productivity and market profitability will bring them new economic opportunities to lift them out of poverty and improve local economies.
USAID announced its new program, Indonesia Coffee Enterprise Resilience Initiative (Resilient Coffee). The program creates partnerships with Keurig Dr. Pepper and Root Capital, a U.S.-based non-government organization. The program intends to provide credit for Indonesia’s rural agricultural businesses. USAID Indonesia Mission Director Jeff Cohen stated that the program, “expand[s] public-private capacity and commitment to strengthening and increasing inclusive economic growth, as well as prioritizing investment in women’s economic empowerment.” USAID’s new program will expand Indonesian coffee farming’s economic opportunities and “invest in women’s economic empowerment.” Empowering female coffee farmers will help end the gender wage gap and poverty struggles while bringing new economic opportunities to the region that benefit all involved.
– Clara Mulvihill