Located at the border to 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 speciality 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 and is also home to highly endangered lowland gorillas as well as savannah elephants, chimpanzees, lions, leopards and antelopes. It has the largest diversity of birdlife 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, and the promotion of the social and economic well-being of the people of North Kivu who live around the park, go hand in hand. Through the Virunga Alliance, which is supported by the provincial authorities, civil society and the private sector, the National Park is investing in several initiatives to promote economic regeneration, most notably a major hydro-electric generation and distribution venture. This is already bringing employment opportunities as well as access to electricity for thousands of households.
COOPADE’S WOMEN SECTION
In July 2016, Coopade created a Women’s Section to allow women coffee farmers to control and develop their own coffee production through the whole chain from production through to export. As the women in DR Congo already do the largest proportion of the work the coffee farms, including harvest, this has meant focusing on the delivery of the coffee cherries to the washing station and then managing the actual washing and drying of the parchment coffee. The Women’s Section has built a total of seven of the fifteen Coopade washing stations to date, of which Kirindera was one of the first. These washing stations are entirely managed by the Women’s Section. They aim to improve both coffee yields and coffee quality, and so to secure better livelihoods for their families.
KIRINDERA WOMEN’S PEACE COFFEE 2020
2020 is the first year in which some of Coopade’s coffee produced by women has been kept separate from the rest of the cooperative’s production and marketed with its own identity. It is being produced and sold with pride – pride in its high quality and in the organisational efforts that have made it possible. It is being sold with a small premium that will boost the women’s incomes.
We asked Gisele Kahindo why the women of Kirindera chose to call their coffee Women’s Peace Coffee: “Because of the atrocities that have been committed and which continue to be committed in Eastern DR Congo. It’s so that by growing coffee women can say no to what is happening – and in particular, by employing young people we can provide them with an alternative so that they are no longer drawn to join the armed groups that are destabilizing Virunga National Park. We want to see peace for everyone living in DR Congo, and above all for those living on the borders of the Virunga National Park.