Working with nearly 2,000 small-scale farmers, we seek to reduce extreme poverty, enhance food security, build the local economy, and develop sustainable agricultural practices through the revitalization of coffee in northwest Congo.
The goals of the Karawa Coffee Project are:
to train farmers to properly grow, prune, and harvest coffee;
to train growers to prepare the coffee for sale;
to set-up local growers associations for support;
to help with marketing the coffee by training the associations to function as cooperatives.
“I chose to participate in the coffee project to plan for the future of my children.”
Karawa Coffee Project Numbers
- 1,399 farmers are enrolled with the program and have various sizes of plots for coffee
- 88 villages involved
- 850 hectares (2,100 acres) of coffee to be planted
- 415 kg seeds used
- 340 nursing beds
- 680 metric tons of coffee to be harvested
- 3 months after planting the seeds the young coffee seedlings will be transplanted into sacs in the nursery
- 6 months in the nursery and then planted out in the field
- First harvest starts after 3 years, full production in 5 years
- KCP has hired 5 agronomists, one to oversee each axis and one as the overall supervisor
HISTORY OF COFFEE IN NORTHWEST CONGO
Between the 1970s and mid-90s, coffee was a major cash crop in the DRC. Tons of Robusta coffee was shipped out of the area to Kinshasa and then around the world. North and South Ubangi (where our partners live) used to be major coffee production regions during this time.
Unfortunately, due to the civil conflict and disease of the coffee trees, combined with a period of low prices (2000–2004), production in these provinces declined drastically. Logistics became almost impossible, traders no longer came to buy the crops due to low volumes, and processing capacity was largely destroyed in the civil unrest. The quick collapse of the coffee sector had a negative socio-economic impact on rural areas. Poverty, food insecurity, and lack of basic services such as education, health care, clean water and sanitation, all became a result of the collapse of coffee production and exportation.
However, today the revitalization of coffee is possible and represents hope for farmers and the local economy, because:
- coffee remains a strong preference of the farmers as a cash crop;
- demand both in the internal market and internationally for Robusta coffee, the type produced around Karawa, is growing rapidly;
- production costs are low compared to other Robusta producing countries.
Climate change models have identified Congo to be one of the countries likely to have the best growing conditions in the world for coffee, looking 20–30 years ahead.