About the Coffee
The farming community in North Kivu has become accustomed to adversity. Armed incursion, corruption, and disease are part of everyday life, but in coffee they see hope. Coffee is one of the only cash crops these producers grow. It puts money on the table, brings stability to the community, and enables farmers to plan.
The Coopade is an exciting new Coop with a network of 24 micro-mills along the western rim of the Rwenzori Mountain Range. The benefit of working through a Coop is of huge importance to smallholders since North Kivu is landlocked. Plugging Congolese coffee into the global supply chain means transporting it to the Port of Mombasa in Kenya to reach the sea. Thus, working collectively is essential. Coopade is also focused on expanded production and quality.
The farming community borders the Virunga National Park which occupies the Semliki River Valley in the 140 km stretch between lakes Edward and Albert in the westernmost arm of the Great Rift Valley. Cocoa and palm oil are also grown in the lower zones, and new crops such as chia seeds are also starting to take root. The conditions here are ideal for growing coffee: deep, fertile, volcanic soil, high altitude, and adequate rainfall.
About Virunga National Park and North Kivu
Located at the borders of Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi, the Kivu area is home to coffees with stunning cup profiles. While the area is subject to ongoing conflicts, cooperation between coffee farmers, Farm Africa and the Virunga National Park is encouraging peace through the growth of specialty coffee.
Established in 1925, the Virunga National Park is the oldest national park in Africa and one of the last refuges of the mountain gorilla. It is also home to highly endangered lowland gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees, lions, leopards, antelopes, and the most diverse collection of birds in the world. Due to its situation in eastern DR Congo, the park faces many existential challenges.
For Virunga National Park the conservation of its extraordinary wildlife goes hand in hand with the promotion of the social and economic well-being of the people of North Kivu, who live around the park. Through the Virunga Alliance, which is supported by the provincial authorities, civil society, and the private sector, the national park is investing in a number of initiatives to promote economic regeneration – most notably a major hydroelectric generation and distribution venture. This is already bringing employment opportunities as well as access to electricity for thousands of households.
The park is also embarking on a major agriculture program with the vision of boosting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers who live around the park by investing in the production and marketing of their food and cash crops, including coffee. In this way, the pressures on farmers to encroach on the park to extract wood for charcoal will be reduced and farmers will see benefits from the park’s presence. *Genuine Origin*