I Nyoman Mika Adiputra known as Mika (30) is an inspiring young farmer from Bali, Indonesia. He is one of the AgChampions in the AgUnity project in Bali. He lost his job in the tourism industry because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Becoming a coffee farmer was the only option at that moment, but surprisingly he found joy, opportunity, and a future on the coffee farm.
Hi Mika, can you tell me when you become a coffee farmer?
Sure. It started at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic so it’s around 2020. I worked in the tourism industry in Denpasar (the capital city of Bali) and my contract is terminated because of the pandemic. Therefore, I went back to my hometown in Pajahan, Pupuan, and helped my parents on the coffee farm. So, I officially became a farmer in 2020 haha (laughing).
Can you tell me more about it? About your journey from the beginning as a coffee farmer?
Initially, in 2018, I was indirectly involved in the coffee value chain. When I was a receptionist in a villa and became a friend with one of the guests. She asked me to find green coffee beans in a coffee shop in Ubud before she is back to Australia. I went there and talked with the owner especially about me who is originally from Pupuan. The coffee owner knows that Pupuan is very famous for its coffee. In the unexpected meeting, I realize that there is an opportunity at the coffee farm. We can earn money from that.
So, what happens next?
The coffee owner contacted me when I was already a coffee farmer. He introduced me to someone from Paris who had just established a coffee shop in Bali. She is interested in robusta coffee; I learned from them about how to pick red cherry coffee beans and postharvest processing. They taught me to be a coffee farmer who can produce great coffee beans so we can get a fair price. I learned about coffee processing from them until I got green coffee beans. I learned more with Kopernik (AgUnity partner in Bali’s project) when they visited Pajahan, not only about farming but also about the coffee history and opportunity. Now, I can produce from roasted green coffee beans to roasted coffee beans.
To me, you are not only a farmer but also a processor. Isn't?
True. I learn the coffee cycle from beginning to end. I am helping my parents on the coffee farm and postharvest. I understand the process and I can see many opportunities in coffee. Moreover, I attended the coffee event as well so I can meet up with another community or business.
Can I say that you become a farmer because of a pandemic?
Initially, yes. It is because of the pandemic. But, when I reflect on my journey, I realize that’s not the main reason; the pandemic is only the momentum. As Balinese, we cannot leave our hometown; since I am the only son in the family. Therefore, I am the only one who will inherit the coffee farm. (Context: Bali is a patriarchal society). I thought why do I need to wait? Why I don’t start it now? This is a great opportunity since coffee is a big hit nowadays in Indonesia. The pandemic opens my eyes and my mind. Because in the end, no matter what I must be going back to my hometown.
What joys do you get as a farmer?
Honestly, I feel pessimistic at the beginning of my journey as a farmer. I was wondering whether I will get a good result or not. When I sell my coffee beans to the coffee owner from Paris and she distributes it overseas, I got good feedback and it made me very happy. I never imagine that a farmer’s work and crops can make someone happy and enjoy it. There is always a story behind the coffee that you drink now.
What challenges do you get as a farmer?
I realize that the young generation is not interested in farming. Some young people live in the village, but they don’t want to find an opportunity on a coffee farm. I can’t encourage them alone; I need to show them the result of my work so they will believe in the coffee farms.
What is your hope about that situation (lack of youth in farming)?
As a young generation, we must protect our environment and farms. Although we work in the city, we will always go back to our hometown. What are we going to do in the village if not farming? It’s impossible to build villas, right? This is our treasure to the next generation.
And how about technology? Do technology help farmer?
Definitely, yes! Farmers in the village can get more access to the market with technology. We can’t get a better price without understanding our products. Technology can help farmers to learn about that. Therefore, we as a farmer can get better access to the market and be responsible for the crops that we produce.
Last, what do you want to say to young farmers around the world?
Keep fighting! What you do is cool and impactful! We need to work with the older generations who have more experience. Don’t let them put you down! So, do what you can do in your region with your natural resource.