DR Congo: For women from Kivu to Idjavi, on the island of Arabica

Under Kivu in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, women engage in a coffee plantation on the island of Idjavi, picking cherries, which have enabled them to earn a living for many years. ,

“Women work the land, but are sidelined when it comes to harvesting and marketing, it becomes a man’s story, it rebelled me!”, AFP Marceline Budja, 33 tells to.

Nine years ago, the young woman, entrepreneur and feminist, founded Rebuild Women’s Hope (RWH), an NGO based in Bukavu (South Kivu), that supports women’s empowerment through Idjavi’s coffee culture , which is located in an island of about 300 km. In the middle of Lake Kivu, which produces a recognized Arabica.

The president of the RWH now believes that their “objectives are being achieved”, because “now women can smile, become financially independent”.

Rosette Nykalala Bisengi, 24-year-old farmer and “coffee sorter,” confirms. She only earns 2,500 Congolese Francs ($1.25) a day and would like to double that. But with the money collected at the end of the month, she says, “I buy a goat, a hen… I send my kids to school, I buy clothes for them”.

“We employ at least 12,000 women per coffee season,” explains Marcelin Budja. There are also men – 857 – who are particularly responsible for washing down the coffee. “It is their job and later the women sorting out the coffee. They come in large numbers every morning for it,” she says.

– “We plan to grow” –

Marcellin explains the different stages of production. First we “pulp” the cherries, then “we ferment” and then the grains are placed on “drying beds”…

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After three to four weeks, they are shipped to the larger city of Goma on the northern shore of the lake, where the rest of the process takes place: “halling” – which removes the final envelope surrounding the coffee beans – then exporting .

At the Mungano Agricultural Cooperative Society in Goma, the managing director, Daniel Abamungu Sinyabuguma, also explains that he employs men for “handling” because the bags of coffee weigh 100 kilograms.

But “we employ women” – 600 per year – which allows them to “support themselves in their respective families”, he underlines.

Kivu coffee is “special”, “it is high altitude coffee” growing without chemical fertilizers in volcanic soils. Its taste, according to the director, is “extraordinary”.

Marcelin Budza is also pleased to work on the production of a “specialty coffee” that has been highly appreciated internationally. “Our coffee is consumed in the United States, Europe, and Asia. We have had really favorable results,” she says.

“We produce six, eight, even ten containers of 19 tonnes per season,” she explains. In the long term, “we plan to grow to be able to produce twenty containers exclusively with local labor”.

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