CASSIA CO-OP: BETTER INCOME, BETTER FORMATION, BETTER EDUCATION
Cassia Co-op – a foreign/Indonesian owned company - sources, processes and markets cinnamon and patchouli oil. Currently, the company sources directly from over 2,200 farmers, thereby building a bridge between farmers and end-users. Cassia Co-op contributes to the creation of a more fair, shorter and efficient supply chain, by generating positive impact at the source. Sharing information and a transparent approach are essential to Cassia Co-op, leading to a strong relationship between Cassia Co-op and the farmers.
Patrick Barthelemy and Adrian Akhza, started Cassia Co-op in 2010. 85% of the cinnamon in today’s world market originates from Indonesia and most of it grows in Kerinci, a remote area in Sumatra. Cassia Co-op chose to operate the business and production-plant right at the heart of the cinnamon region, making it easier for the company to work directly with the farmers. Cassia Co-op is the only cassia processing company in the region and creates (additional) income opportunities for the small and poor farming communities in the very remote area, and creates jobs at the production-plant as well.
Next to cinnamon, Cassia Co-op sources and markets patchouli oil from the cinnamon farmers. As cinnamon is harvested just once every 10 to 25 years - most farmers see only two or three harvests in their lifetime - patchouli is an additional cash crop for the cinnamon farmers providing them additional income. Intercropping patchouli provides the cinnamon farmers with additional income, and the development of intercrop programs strengthens the (longer term) relationship between Cassia Co-op and the farmers even further. Through the programs, Cassia Co-op provides seedlings, training and labour support for free to the farmers.
Most Indonesian cinnamon farmers grow their trees on small, remote parcels of land (known as “bidang”) alongside other native species like surian, jati and malaku. They consider their cinnamon to be a “savings account,” hiring a team to harvest their forests only when additional income is necessary. A farmer might, for example, utilize his cinnamon to finance a family wedding. It takes 10 full-time workers about one month to harvest all of the cinnamon on a “bidang”. A typical harvest yields about 20,000 kgs (45,000 lbs) of cinnamon, but production can vary greatly depending on the age of cinnamon trees.
Apart from the production-plant, the company has a training center in Kerinci. At the center, Cassia Co-op provides training to farmers - and staff - in the organic farming and Rainforest Alliance certified production of cinnamon and patchouli. The training centre is the HQ for the patchouli-cinnamon inter-cropping program. Next, the company collaborates with local Agricultural High Schools in Kerinci and universities from Jambi, Padang but also other cities in Sumatra, offering trainee programs to the future farmers, entrepreneurs and agronomists