The role of the co-operative in building the D.R. Congo’s coffee industry.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) isn’t well known for coffee, but rather the civil war which tore the country apart for over 20 years. Small farming communities are working together, against the odds, to create a new industry and a way forward for their families.
The eastern border of the DRC runs along the Western Rift Valley, home to some of the Great African Lakes. This region shares the climate, soil and conditions of successful coffee producing neighbours in Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania. High altitudes, rich dense volcanic soil are perfect for coffee cultivation and warm days paired with cool nights help the coffee cherries develop and mature slowly and evenly.
Despite the perfect conditions, coffee was all but abandoned when the country first gained independence from Belgium, who had introduced the crop in 1940. Coffee was an unwelcome reminder of the country’s colonial past. Unsupported by successive governments, the industry dwindled down to small backyard production where individual farmers were often fleeced by corrupt buyers and taxed up to 32 times by government officials.
The old trees remained and continued to be harvested, but without much hope for success or profit.