Countries Spotlight - Democratic Republic of Congo
Like many former colonies in Africa, coffee production in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) dates back to plantations established by the Belgians in the 1940s. Following independence in 1960, the coffee industry struggled with years of unrest and armed conflict, causing instability and decaying infrastructure.
As the second largest country in Africa, DRC has approximately 80 million hectares of arable land. Coffee is grown primarily in the mountains surrounding Lake Kivu in the East, where Bourbon variety plants benefit from high elevation at 1460 to over 2000 metres above sea level, and good rainfall.
Whereas coffee production used to be dominated by large-scale plantations, today smallholder farms of 100 trees or fewer are sustaining the industry. Investments in washing stations and farmer training by organizations and cooperatives such as the Solidarité Paysanne pour la Promotion des Actions Café et Development Intégral (SOPACDI) are improving networks and infrastructure, enabling farmers to produce and bring high-end specialty coffee to market.
As one of the poorest countries in the world, the impact of supporting small-scale farming in the DRC cannot be underestimated.
Programs run by USAID, for example, are developing women's’ leadership and control over coffee revenue. This improves their access to capital, allowing them to take financial decision making into their own hands on a business and household level. With this in mind, we search for coffees that empower smallholder farming businesses, and align with supply chain actors (cooperatives, importers) committed to developing specialty coffee production and gender equity in DRC.
Annual Harvest Period: Sep-Jan (North) Mar-Jun (South) Coffee's we have purchased from the DRC:
(2017) Kawa Kabuya Co-operative (2500 members), Butembo, Eastern Congo
(2018) Muungano Co-operative (4230 members), Kiniezire, Eastern Congo
(2019) Muungano Co-operative - Decaf (4230 members), Kiniezire, Eastern Congo