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The Toraja Project
Registered Charity CC26900

How Can New Zealanders Help?

In 2006 the Toraja Rural Development Trust was formed to provide help to farming families in Toraja to improve the productivity and profitability of their farms.

The role of Jalesa

The trust supports the work of Jalesa, a small farmerís organisation in Toraja whose field officers work with village groups to enable farmers to grow better crops and market them more effectively. We know that to be effective, development must address needs identified by local people. Too many aid projects have failed because outside "experts" dictated solutions that were not appropriate to the needs of the local community.

We respect the ability of Jalesa to work sympathetically with farmers and equip them with the knowledge they need to improve their farming practices. The work they undertake will be familiar to New Zealand farmers. Jalesa staff operate in a way similar to farm consultants in New Zealand, be they employed by farm improvement clubs, industry organisations such as Dairy New Zealand or in private practice.

Village Groups

In helping farmers to solve problems, Jalesa staff recognise the importance of village groups in training farmers in production and marketing. These village groups are at the centre of their activities and will form the nucleus of co-operative marketing initiatives.

While Jalesa will be working with a range of crops, it has become apparent that the most important of these is coffee. The crop grows well in Toraja and, due to the altitude, has a reputation for excellent quality. However, in order to meet the demanding standards of modern coffee consumers, farmers must take particular care over the standard of harvesting and initial processing.

Coffee Marketing

Presently the farmers rely on a long market chain with a number of "middle men" and traders handling the coffee beans before they arrive at their destination. Farmers are largely at the mercy of the vagaries of the market.

However consumers in western countries are becoming interested in other qualities associated with their coffee and are increasingly looking for fair trade and organic coffee. Toraja coffee will qualify for both categories but to attain fair trade status the business must be directly between the village marketing group and the overseas buyer. The village groups will be a vital part of a much shorter market chain with the prospect of better and more stable prices.

Government Assistance

NZAid, a division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, will assist private sector projects providing they measure up to a number of criteria. In particular a project must demonstrate sustainability; that is the benefits accruing to the recipients will be on-going, even after the project has finished. Where a project can demonstrate good practice it qualifies for an 80% subsidy. This is generous support and recognises that the private sector is a very efficient provider of development assistance. Our project has been approved and we receive a $4 subsidy for each dollar invested in Toraja.

Financial Support

We welcome financial support and regular donations are appreciated. Our support base is largely among New Zealand farming families and those with a rural connection but we welcome the interest and support from all New Zealanders. To date we have received around $100 per annum as an average donation.

Please send a cheque or alternatively direct credit our bank account, including your name, and then advise us of the donation and your address in order that it can be acknowledged. (See contacts page for details)

There has been support from service clubs and should your club be interested we can provide a speaker to a club meeting.

Coffee Peeling Machines

The prompt peeling of coffee immediately after harvest to expose the bean is important for attaining the best quality. There are insufficient machines available but can be purchased locally. A simple hand operated peeling machine costs $NZ140 and we are inviting supporters to donate the cost of a machine. We are expecting the farmers to pay part of the cost of a machine but the funds earned from part payment are to be used to further develop village projects.

Farmer to Farmer

We have always seen this project as a direct farmer to farmer initiative and our friends in Toraja are well aware of our farming connection in New Zealand. They are always delighted to meet New Zealanders. We are encouraging our supporters who may be travelling to consider a visit to Toraja. While it is not on a convenient travel route it is accessible from either Australia or Singapore. Should this be a possibility contact us and we will arrange your welcome in Toraja. Toraja once had a thriving tourist industry and there is comfortable and reasonably priced accommodation available.