Muungano means "togetherness" in Swahili, a perfect description of this emerging group of farmers who have joined together across communities after decades of conflict. In 2009, 350 founding members came together and founded La Cooperative de Café Muungano in eastern DR Congo. Located on the slopes near the shores of Lake Kivu, this co-op today has over 4,300 farmers investing in coffee and their communities. They received their organic certification in 2017!
Muungano's members live in different communities that were divided by the civil war. However, these dedicated coffee farmers made the choice to combine their strengths in order to build a great future for their communities. They work hard every day in order to produce a high quality coffee. Coffee represents a sliver of hope for the DR Congo. Through coffee, it is hoped many local Congolese can begin to rebuild their communities following years of strife.
This young cooperative annually exports up to five containers of specialty coffees to Europe and the US. It owns two main washing stations and one smaller one. Most of the farmers deliver fresh cherries to the cooperative, only about 5% of them wet process the coffee at the farm level before bring it to the co-op. Once coffee is processed and dried in South Kivu, it is sent to the dry mill in Goma to be sorted. When the green coffee is ready for the market, it's transported to the port of Mombasa (Kenya).
Located in Kinyezire, South-Kivu, about half way down lake Kivu at 1450 meters-- Varietals: Arabica - Bourbon
Solidarité pour la Promotion des Actions Café et le Développement Intégral (SOPACDI)is reviving the reputation of the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo for being a region which can produce outstanding washed Arabica coffees. For decades there had been no markets for farmers’ coffee and producers had no option but to take the dangerous smuggling route across Lake Kivu, bartering their coffee for food and everyday essentials. Others had been forced to flee their land due to the violent civil war.
In 2003 a small group came together - inspired by the newly formed specialty coffee cooperatives in Rwanda - and five years later they found their first specialty coffee buyer, Twin Trading. SOPACDI unites farmers from different ethnic groups – they speak Kirundi, Kihavu or Kinyarwanda – yet they are united in their vision to improve their families lives and communities through coffee. Since 2008, the momentum has been building. SOPACDI was the first co-op to build a new central coffee washing station in the country in over forty years. They were the first of small scale farmers to achieve Fair Trade and Organic certification in Eastern Congo, and the first to export specialty grade coffee!
The co-op currently has over 11,000 members (of which about 30% women) whose spirit is stronger than ever, working together to provide a sustainable livelihood. SOPACDI members work hard every day in order to improve the quality of the coffee they produce, and to improve traceability.
Many of SOPACDI’s coffee farmers are widows, their husbands drowned smuggling coffee across Lake Kivu. The cooperative has a system in place to have coffee grown, collected and accounted for by women. Importers pay a premium on coffee produced by women and this premium is then used to fund women groups in each sector. In addition to funding projects run and organized by the women of the co-op, one of the most important facets of the women groups is to facilitate communication and transparent information for women in order to help them increase their participation in the co-op. Fitina Wabush, a 36 year old resident of the small village of Kairengel with 7 kids states of the importance of the group, “If I am sick I know have friends to call on to help me with my kids.” In addition to the basic support network the groups create, funds are used for regenerative economic activities. In Kalunga the group has opened a flour mill providing them with extra income, and other women’s groups have used funds to buy cattle or pigs or for microfinance funding.
Located on the Bulenga peninsula of Lake Kivu, near the town of Minova at 1450 - 1900 meters -- Varietals: Arabica