This guest blog post comes to us from our very own Miguel Zamora , the Director of Coffee Innovation and Producer Relations at Fair Trade USA. Miguel is focused on creating opportunities between buyers and coffee-growing communities around the world. Read on to learn more about his visit with small scale coffee farmers in the Lake Toba region of Sumatra who hope to access the many opportunities and benefits of Fair Trade through Fair Trade USA's new Independent Smallholder Standard (ISS).
I just returned from visiting the Lake Toba  region in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, where I was meeting with small-scale coffee farmers who want to join Fair Trade. Most of the participants in these meetings tend to men, but on this trip a few women joined the meetings as well.
In this region, a lot of the work in coffee fields is actually done by women. Fair Trade requires participatory and representative leadership and, in this case, will require that women  form part of the leadership farmer group (the Fair Trade Committee). This committee will gather input from other farmers (and their spouses) about where to invest the Fair Trade premium and how to implement premium-funded projects.
With the support of local NGO’s and an exporter, the Fair Trade farmers committee will also collect information from the farmers to better understand what the most important issues that Fair Trade could support  are (for example: better access to water , better access to healthcare , etc). Then, the farmers committee creates a plan that lays out how the future Fair Trade premiums will address those issues.
We hope that Fair Trade will help improve these farming communities and will bring them closer to the consumers who buy their coffee. Stay tuned for more updates on our progress!
This post is part of our new Innovation Update Series. Please stay tuned as we report on both the successes and challenges involved in launching each coffee pilot, our cooperative-strengthening program Co-op Link , and our progress on Fair Trade for All  as a whole. It's a unique opportunity for people to learn about the farmers and workers participating in these programs, what Fair Trade means to them, and how we can work together to build a more inclusive, collaborative approach that supports everyone in the global coffee supply chain willing to commit to a journey of sustainability, responsibility, empowerment and impact.