"Taste of Kivu", Congolese coffee takes its ELAN
Are we about to see a coffee "made in Congo" of international notoriety? It seems so. Driven by the ELAN programme, implemented by Adam Smith International and financed by British cooperation, the rebirth of Congolese coffee is under way.

Since 2014, the ELAN DRC programme aims to bring abouta change in these impoverishing economic market systems as well as in the mostdisadvantaged populations, particularly women.

This is, to say the least, an ambitious goal, becausebefore we can propose innovative and inclusive solutions, we must tackle thebrakes and constraints of the economic market. With an endowment of 50 millionpounds, or approximately 65 million dollars, ELAN DRC intervenes in variouseconomic sectors such as agriculture, renewable energies, access to finance andthe transport sector.

In addition to its programmes in the mining sector,ELAN has developed a particularly interesting project in South Kivu:"Saveurs du Kivu", which supports communities (agriculturalproduction) and micro subcontracting companies, and supplies market gardeningproducts for Catering services in particular, and facilitates their access tocredit or by enabling them to acquire renewable energy sources.

 

"The coffee sector has enormous potential toboost the economy of the region and even the country once and for all,"Grégoire Poisson, Deputy Director of ELAN DRC, passionately hammered beforeadding: "You realize that the DRC exported only 12,000 tonnes of coffeelast year, whereas some figures suggest figures of over 120,000 tonnes in the1980s! »

 

With more than 200,000 small farmers mainly located inthe highlands, coffee growing has, in fact, and despite all the years of armedconflict, regained its rights through conviction, technical support, supportfrom several companies involved in fair trade in Europe and the ELAN program.

Before thinking about reviving the sector, ELAN made athorough diagnosis of the causes of the fall in production. Between the declineof plants (decrepitude of plantations), the appearance of diseases, known ornot, tax policy, the weakness of farmers' supervision, the absence ofagronomists on the land to popularize new cultivation techniques - or theinsufficiency of their equipment, quite simply -, the difficulties of access toland, inadequate maintenance of agricultural access roads, recurrent insecurityand border fraud, not forgetting the impossibility for a farmer to obtaincredit from a commercial bank to resume activity, the challenges to be met arenumerous.

Another problem, and not the least, is the smugglingof coffee to the three neighbouring countries (Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi).Many Ugandan and Rwandan companies in the sector have set up their counters onboth sides of the border to recover coffee produced in the DRC. "Theproblem is that they sell it under the label of their own country and notours," confides a connoisseur, "but we also have to understand thefarmers... Exporting officially is a headache: where we have to spend sevendays with the Congolese state, the fraudster carries out the whole operation ina single day, and at a better price! »

 

The ball thus seems, once is not customary, in thecamp of the provincial authorities on this thorny issue of cross-bordertraffic.

Making Kivu coffee known to international buyersremains one of the essential steps. To this end, the organization of the fourth"flavor of Kivu" show last June, in partnership with provincial andnational authorities, allows the progressive development of an "excellentcoffee, subtle, neither full-bodied, nor sweet, with floral aromas and that onecan without complex place in the category of the great African arabicas likethe Moka Sidamo of Ethiopia", according to connoisseurs.

To conclude, let us keep the optimism of rigour. Theroad is still long for Congolese coffee to regain its full international aura,but thanks to this work carried out by actors on the ground, to the firm willof Kivutian farmers, to the ELAN programme, a sector that creates jobs andwealth is reborn from its ashes, or rather... from its marc.

 

 

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