‘Thanks to fairtrade, more and more Congolese farmers for coffee instead of for bullets’

Due to the ongoing political unrest drops the Congo, further away, in the economic swamp. But just in difficult circumstances, shows fair market value. That said Thomas Vogel, head of Politics, South and Young people at Oxfam-Wereldwinkels.

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To say that it does not go well with the Congolese economy, is an understatement. Who is the current exchange rate of the Congolese franc nd seems to be today earlier to the profile of a Touretappe with arrival uphill to look. The inflation rate in August peaked to seventy percent, and according to some observers, the national currency by the end of the year, an estimated thirty percent of its value is lost.

The refusal of president Kabila to new elections to organize allows for months for political unrest. That and the quasi-bankruptcy of the Congolese state is the weakness of the economy all the way to the edge of the precipice, and pushed.

This situation also puts the coffee farmers in the Kivustreek again under pressure. The proceeds of the koffieoogst in the spring, which in the best case, a portion of the savings of the cooperative to the side had taken, will have less than usual to help the autumn to come. The fall of the Congolese franc hunts also their co-operatives on higher costs: along with the inflation take the invisibles (the unofficial taxes that officials and police officers claim a), namely a high flight. The infamous ubiquitous corruption relives glory days now, the Congolese economy crashes.


Thanks to fairtrade, more and more Congolese farmers for coffee instead of for bullets

That corruption is, in addition to the legendary lack of infrastructure and the absence of a significant rule of law, the reason why foreign investors in the country prefer to ignore. Mobilizing private capital is the new buzzword when talking about development cooperation, in the Congo gives the private sector is not at home. With the notorious exception of international mining companies, who just benefit by a minimum of regulation.

It was not thanks to the great commercial koffiespelers that the Congolese coffee a few years ago on a quiet revival began. That that happened, and that is entirely due to the efforts of organisations such as Oxfam, who are farmers persuaded to unite, their cooperatives support and investments were in infrastructure and in better farming techniques. By giving them an outlet and a fairer price to offer, took the coffee from Kivu for the first time in decades, time and again direct his way to the international market. So provided the local producers, in addition to the pride, again very positive outlook.

Previously was the only economic perspective for many Eastern Congolese in join an armed militia. It was that or move to a mijnrijke region, the resort to the informal economy, or a combination of all previous options.

Since their product directly finds its way to Europe and America to see, however, more and more farmers a future in the cultivation of the black gold. A choice for coffee instead of for bullets. The because gives the farmers a second payment after the harvest, while the cooperative is a part of the revenue can invest in education and health care.


You can also make a difference with a cup of fairtrade coffee

Now the political and economic thermometers further in the red, it appears that the recently regained handelslink with foreign countries also provide additional protection against the vagaries of the local economy. Since their coffee is destined for export and thus international currency is traded, see the coffee farmers the price of their coffee cherries is adjusted to the dollar exchange rate. That way they keep more on the sale of their coffee to the sale of crops for the local market. Also, the co-operatives escape today, thanks to their export contracts for a large part to the loss in buying power, by the ruinous inflation.

The small story behind the coffee from Kivu, like any progress in the Congo, fragile. Of course, the challenges for the coffee farmers and the other inhabitants immensely. However, this story shows how fair trade in particularly difficult circumstances can contribute to the resilience of local communities. And how you do it with a cup of Oxfam-coffee actually can make a difference.

Or, as the manager of a cooperative, last week said: “I know that your newspapers only write about what goes wrong in the Congo, but we are now working further.’

Thomas Mels

The Oxfam coffee from Kivu is central during the Week of the Fair Trade. Go to a fair trade shop and swap on Saturday, October 14, an empty pack of coffee for a fair package Oxfam coffee.

Also read: Director, Fairtrade Belgium: ‘We are as a society today is looking for alternatives”

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