Falcon Coffees

Origin

DR Congo

Population

85,026,000 approx. (2015)

Altitude Range

1300 – 2200 masl (approx)

Notable Coffee Growing Regions

North and South Kivu

Total Yearly Production

335,000 (60kg bags) (2015/16 - ICO)

Processing

Washed

No. of coffee farms / farmers

11,000 coffee farmers

Average Farm Sizes

1.4 hectares

Harvest periods

April - July

Per Capita Consumption

0.18kg per annum

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, in Central Africa, is a country traumatized by decades of civil conflict. It is estimated that over 5 million people have lost their lives since 2000, with millions more displaced. The wealth of the country and the root of the conflict lies in its vast mineral deposits.

The development of the country has been held back by political instability, lack of infrastructure, deep-rooted corruption and a history of exploitation from both its colonial past and in more recent times, commercial exploitation in pursuit of its mineral wealth.

As with its neighbours, Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda – coffee has come to represent a significant opportunity for economic regeneration and social impact.

Situated on the Equator, the DRC receives up to 2000mm of rainfall annually. This, combined with volcanic soils and high elevation, create the perfect conditions for cultivating coffee, especially on the hills and mountains surrounding Lake Kivu, in the East of the country.

In the 1970’s the DRC was one of the leading exporters of coffee in the world. Today, production stands at 10% of what it once was. Until recently, instability and poor infrastructure have limited farmer’s access to market. Until recently, farmers would have little option but to sell coffee to middle men, who would transport parchment across Lake Kivu in small boats at night into neighbouring Rwanda or Burundi. Many men have lost their lives on this perilous journey, drowning from capsized boats and bad weather.

Creating market access for Congo’s smallholders is key to ensuring the flow of revenue back to the country. Increased income for farmers will mean greater investment in improving yields and quality, helping to drive prices to more sustainable levels.

Falcon has invested in this origin before and suffered a major financial loss. We are back, but this time we are not alone. Operating and succeeding in the Congo requires collaboration. Today Falcon works alongside a non-profit called Eastern Congo Initiative and a local family owned exporter, Coffeelac Sarl, to support and build the local coffee farming industry.

Together, we have tripled the household income for 4200 coffee farming families in the South Kivu province and we are only just beginning….

 

COMMON VARIETALS:

The same Nicolaides family that own and operate Great Lakes Coffee in Uganda, own and operate a brand new mill and export operation in North and South Kivu Provinces in DR Congo. Falcon Coffees are the exclusive partner to Coffeelac for the high quality coffees coming from this region.

DR Congo: Social Impact

Radio AFEM is a national NGO that trains women to become journalists and produces radio shows that are broadcasted on 15 local community radio stations within the Democratic Republic of Congo. Based in the town of Bukavu, South Kivu province, Radio AFEM was founded by Madam Chouchou (pronounced ‘Shoo-Shoo’), a self-taught investigative journalist, front line revolutionary and testament to the power of the human spirit. Her fight is for the rights of women in a country where women have no voice, quite literally – in many places, speaking in public is forbidden. There is no region on earth where rape takes place with the frequency and scale as in the DRC. Women and children are the victims.

Madame Chouchou and her team of female journalists place themselves and their network of volunteers in conflict areas at great personal risk, recording and broadcasting the testimonials of the victims of these crimes of sexual violence. Radio AFEM has no resources beyond its people, laptop computers and a small recording studio. They have no broadcasting ability of their own. Program editors send CD recordings to regional radio stations, paying $50 per thirty-minute slot across 43 radio stations.

Their scope is beyond reporting conflict. Their programs encourage audience participation and empower women to find a place of self-belief through shared experience and professional advice; covering topics from pregnancy to farming, human rights to postnatal care, to a woman’s right to comment on politics and economics, Radio AFEM is making heroes of women through telling their stories, both as leaders and as victims.
AFEM is just one of the community initiatives supported by the East Congo Initiative, one of Falcon Coffees’ supply chain partners in DR Congo. Together, we are going to use the power of coffee to build AFEM their own radio station and to broadcast coffee training programs through them to the hundreds of thousands of women that grow, pick and carry coffee every day in the Kivu Provinces. This will create revenue, beyond aid, for AFEM to stand alone as a commercially sustainable business and grow as a force for positive change.

As business people we have a responsibility to integrate the economic welfare of people who exist on the margins into our economic activities. We will work with East Congo Initiative and similar organisations to support incredible people like Madam Chouchou by figuring out ways to integrate our coffee activities with social initiatives that will help rebuild the Congo.