Let’s go to Toraja

Toraja or simply known as Tana Toraja is a Indonesian regency located in highlands in Sulawesi Indonesia about 300 km far north from Makassar the capital city of South Sulawesi. Beside as a tourist destination, Toraja also known as one of the best coffee producers especially Arabican Coffee.

Instead benefeting from the abundant crops, still some local farmers or local community who depend on coffee plantation could not increase their living standards. Many farmers around in plantation still living in semi-permanent houses, poor water supply, and harsh road conditions. Altough there are a small number of coffee roasting operations in Toraja, which at some point utilise traditional machinery to produce a poor-quality product and much of this is either sold locally in markets or packaged for sale as tourist souvenirs. The value of food tourism for regional branding has been demonstrated in various contexts and could potentially be important in Toraja but at any circumstances, at this stage it is insignificant. It is believed there is considerable potential synergy with the Toraja tourism industry (that once a rapidly growing sector, but now struggling to regain its popularity), which could benefit from a stronger regional image, improved local roasting activities and agro-tourism development.

The quality of coffee produced in Tana Toraja, apart from the specific nature of agricultural production systems, is also attributed to the unique cultural characteristics of the Toraja people, who retain a complex ceremonial cycle and ancient traditions of ritual house construction that are among the top tourism attractions of Indonesia. The ability of an origin to tell a story is an important quality attraction within the specialty coffee market.

The best coffee in Toraja is grown on the slopes of Sesean, which offers favourably high altitudes for growing coffee, though growers here are not much more likely than any others in the world to share much of the profit from soaring global consumption (Waterson, 2009). The transition process from an agrarian community to a tourism service related industry community is believed was the factor why agriculture only generated minor economic benefit through tourism activity. The agricultural sector, which has a deep cultural root in the community life of many Torajans has shifted to be inefficient and ineffective as a result of the new orientation change for development (Avenzora, 2003).

Many tourism stakeholders in Indonesia especially is still focused on making the agricultural sector as a tourism object, while the real ‘deal’ is to make the agricultural sector as a subject of tourism development. Many tea-producing and tea-consuming countries such as China, Japan, Britain and Russia have adopted tea as an inherent part of their national identities and this is important to the tourism process. As tourism people we should expected to discover role model how agriculture sector helps improving Torajan coffee farmers increase their quality of life.

Kasih Cakaputra Komsary