Trade in coffee and cocoa used to flourish in the DR Congo. However, as a result of years of unrest and economic hardship the plantations are now unused.
The existing agriculture is not productive, many subsistence farmers are not even able to feed themselves. More and more people are leaving for the cities. This trend can only be halted if the smallholders can be sure of a basic income. Here cash crops such as coffee, cocoa and bananas offer hope as they can be sold for a profit on local and export markets.
500 smallholders in the Mayombe Region in western Congo have joined forces in the cooperative COPROCOM to rejuvenate the cultivation of cocoa and the specialty Robusta coffee "Petit Kwilu".
The German non-profit partner organisation has the task of mobilising the necessary financial resources and is responsible for identifying channels for the sale of the cocoa and coffee in Europe according to the principles of fair trading.
Buyers will only be found for high quality products. To achieve this the individual stages in the production process must be optimised: cultivation, harvesting, processing (pulping), washing and sorting. Fermentation is a further important stage in the case of cocoa.
To enable the sustainable success of the cooperative and its smallholders, investments are urgently needed. The extension of the nurseries, machinery for the coffee processing, drying facilities, the construction of a small depot and a fermentation unit for cocoa are the highest priorities.
The total costs are calculated to be around €80,000.