West Papua’s Thriving Coffee Industry: The Facts and the Challenges

Development of the Coffee Industry in West Papua

While coffee was not the native plant in Indonesia, drinking coffee has now become their daily tradition since the initial introduction by the Dutch and the missionaries

With this long history, no wonder the coffee industry has thrived in this country. 

In fact, the Central Bureau of Statistics (BPS) stated that in 2020 Indonesia produced 379.35 thousand tons of coffee. We exported this product to countries such as the USA, Malaysia, Egypt, Italy, and Japan[1].

West Papua is among the many areas in Indonesia that not only produce a large amount of coffee but also one with rare and distinctive taste and aroma. Papua arabica coffee becomes special because it grows in areas lying 1,400 to 2,000 above sea level.[2] This is an ideal place for growing arabica coffee, not to mention that the Papuan does not use any chemical fertilizer for their plantation.

Let’s take a closer look at this special coffee industry in the eastern paradise of Indonesia.

West Papua Coffee Plantation in a Brief

Plan to Improve Coffee Industry

The Dutch government brought coffee seeds to Indonesia around the 1690s. This is an important effort because it led to the establishment of many coffee plantations nationwide. 

In 2016 the Indonesian government tried to revive the plantation in West Papua due to its high potential. The result makes it one of the most important commodities in this area.  

Here are the two main coffee plantations in West Papua:

1. Lembah Baliem

Baliem Valley is located in the central highlands, precisely in Wamena, Jayawijaya region. This area is well-known for its Papua Wamena coffee which uses the Bourbon cultivar technique for cultivation. Thus, Wamena arabica coffee is often compared to one of the world’s most delicious coffee: Jamaica Blue Mountain.

What makes this plantation special is due to its organic maintenance, which does not include any chemicals or pesticides in growing the beans. Wamena coffee also has distinctive characteristics, such as a smooth and balanced flavor with a floral and strong aroma while low in acidity and caffeine.  

2. Lembah Kamu

Kamu Valley lies at the eastern edge of the central highlands in the Nabire region around Moanemani town. The indigenous Mee tribe also grows organic coffee in this area.  The characteristics of Moanemani coffee, among others, are having a unique flavor with a combination of savory nuts taste and aroma.

The success story of the Wamena and Moanemani coffee plantations encourages the government to expand their coffee Indonesia plantations in other areas. They started to grow coffee in areas such as Arfak Mountains, the highlands in Timika, and Mount Bintang in Jayawijaya. 

Therefore, coffee production in Papua is escalating in both its quality and quantity.

The Challenges of the Coffee Industry in West Papua

Challenges to Improve the Coffee Industry

Aside from being one of the most loved coffees in the world, the coffee industry in Indonesia, especially in West Papua, still encounters numerous challenges. Here are the top three challenges to learn about:

1. The Marketing

West Papua still has difficult access to promote and market their coffee due to the remote location. However, with the current infrastructure development, there is a solution for both online and offline marketing.   

2. The Lack of Qualified Human Resources

Local farmers may have an excellent way of growing coffee, but they lack knowledge in maintaining product quality due to poor post-harvest storage.  

3. Climate Change

Climate change is a serious threat because this plant needs certain temperatures and rainfall patterns for its production. Hopefully, the government can address this problem so the plantations become climate resistant.

The Takeaway

West Papua is rich in volcanic soil structure, making it the ideal place to produce high-quality West Papuan coffee. Still, the lack of qualified human resources needs an upgrading. The government needs to help the farmers with the post-harvest and storing the coffee and its marketing. 

Hopefully, the coffee industry in West Papua will thrive with the right collaboration of coffee farmers, governments, and other entities.