Café Africa R.D.Congo established 2010
The coffee sector for the Democratic Republic of Congo
The coffee sector in the Democratic Republic of Congo used to be one of the main drivers of the economy. In the major producing provinces, Bas-Congo, Bandundu, Equateur North and South, Kasai, North Kivu and Oriental Province, coffee was widely considered as being the main source of household disposable income. While this image still remains in the minds of many farmers, the intervening years of civil strife, neglect of the transport infrastructure, the government’s inability of support and fund the agricultural extension services, and the ravages of CWD (coffee wilt disease), have reduced production drastically. It is estimated that there are about 800,000 households involved in coffee production.
Phase 1: Participatory situation analysis
In order to make contact with stakeholders and assess properly the situation, co-financing was sought for the work, and this was obtained from four donors, Oxfam-Novib, Netherlands, Belgian Technical Cooperation, USAID Compete project in Nairobi, and Solidaridad, Netherlands.
This enabled us to make visits to 6 producing provinces in August and September, 2009. Stakeholder meetings were held in Boma, Kikwit, Mbandaka, Gemena, Isiro and Beni. At each meeting, between 100 and 200 stakeholders attended, including government officials, ONC officers, processors, growers and NGO’s. The purpose of these meetings was to learn from stakeholders about the current situation of the industry, the key constraints which they have been experiencing, and their proposed solutions. The object was to ensure their involvement with the process of developing a national strategy and a plan of action for its implementation.
In each province, a provincial follow-up committee was formed. The task of these committees is to monitor the workshop and prepare a plan of action at local level to achieve agreed goals for the rehabilitation of the coffee sector. In addition, the provincial committees will liaise with the national follow-up committee for purposes of having a coherent national approach to the industry.
A national conference/workshop was held from 27 – 29 January 2010. A total number of 134 participants gathered to identify key issues, and develop the main points for inclusion in a national strategy.
Phase 2: Development of a strategic sector plan
At that meeting, it was agreed that a follow-up committee be established, tasked to produce, from the outputs of the provincial and national workshops, a national strategic plan for the coffee industry, together with a detailed action plan for its implementation, at least for the first 2 years.
What became clear during the course of the project, in discussions with industry stakeholders, government officials, and in particular the growers themselves, was that there exists a keen interest in rehabilitating this sector. Coffee continues to have the reputation in many rural areas of being the best hope for raising household incomes on a sustainable basis. The National Coffee Strategy was adopted by the Government in 2010 in Kinshasa.
Since that time, investment has started to come back into the industry, though more slowly than we had hoped. This is in part due to the difficult situation still prevailing in many parts of the country. There have been various projects of USAID (CRS) based in Bukavu, DFID (ELAN), based in Goma, and CFC (VECO) based in Butembo. In addition Café Africa RDC has worked in conjunction with Agrisud on a project in Bas-Congo on the improvement of the production of the unique Petit Kwilu variety, and we are at present developing a project in North and South Ubangui based at Karawa to promote production amongst the small-holder robusta farmers there, in collaboration with the CEUM Community, and financed through the Paul Carson Partnership.
Phase 3: Interventions in the sector
a. Seedling multiplication programme, financed by AIDCOM through CDE. (2014/15). We coordinated the establishment of nurseries for about 1 million seedlings in 4 provinces, all for robusta coffee, the purpose being to start to enhance production and productivity, based on the improved varieties and planting material.
b. Training of agronomists, South Kivu with CRS. (2017). We conducted training for coffee agronomists, developing a manual for their use in the field with the small-holder farmers
c. Karawa Coffee Project, Nord et Sud Ubangui, financed by PCP (Paul Carlson Partnership). (2017 – 2020). At the end of 2017 we launched this new project, were CARDC is coordinating the development, in partnership with CEUM, Gemena, of coffee production in the Karawa area. We have so far about 1500 farmers registered, and nurseries established, aiming for the production of about 1200 tons of coffee within 3 – 4 years from these small-holder farmers. The purpose is to improve the household incomes and rural livelihoods for the local population.
d. Study of potential for development of coffee production, Sankuru with CRS. (2018). We have conducted a study in Kasai to evaluate the possibility of integrating coffee into existing food security and environmental programmes in the regions around the Salonga National Park. It is hoped that a coffee programme may follow in the future, again, to improve farmer livelihoods.