The climatic and geographical conditions of the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo are ideal to grow high quality coffee. However, infrastructure and trade have been in decline since the 1960’s, when the country gained its independence from Belgium, and were fully destroyed in the years following the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Ongoing conflicts and violence caused many farmers to flee, abandoning their homes and coffee plantations. Producers who had nowhere else to go were forced to smuggle their coffee harvest out of the country to make a living. Today, although the situation is still unstable, many farmers are looking for means to rebuild their lives again through agriculture. Fair Trade coffee, which has already proven a powerful conflict resolution tool in other unstable regions, has the potential to provide farmers and communities with sustainable livelihoods. Situated on the shores of Lake Kivu, SOPACDI (Solidarité Paysanne pour la Promotion des Actions Café et Développement Intégral) is one of few Congolese coffee cooperatives working with farmers affected by the regions constant struggles. With support from different organizations, led by Twin Trading, SOPACDI has built its capacity to produce and export coffee to the highest of international standards. Due to the dire situation of coffee farmers in East Congo, Fair Trade officials took the initiative to allow SOPACDI permission to trade on Fair Trade terms on the basis of a documentary inspection, as the smoldering conflict in the region prevented FLO-CERT inspectors from traveling into the country. The cooperative became the first Fair Trade certified entity in Congo, with over 3,200 members of which an estimated 600 are women.
Number of Members:
Democratic Republic of the Congo