Coffee Farming Declining in the Congo

Many farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo are finding that growing coffee beans is not all that it is cracked out to be, and are increasingly switching over to other crops, such as bananas, that are easier to grow and which the local farmers have more experience growing. This change comes on the heels of the Democratic Republic of Congo becoming more widely accepted as a producer of quality coffee beans for export.


Many Congolese farmers are paid by cooperatives that help to ensure free trade and better prices for farmers. Congolese farmers are indicating that they are being paid about 67 cents per pound for coffee beans, while the coffee cooperative is earning anywhere from $2.20 to $8.80 per pound.


Further, many of these farmers indicate that they are paid on credit and that they often do not receive the payments for the amounts owed. Bananas are a more productive and profitable crop for them that yields greater returns.


These cooperatives are generally accepted to provide better distribution networks for farmers and provide improved access to markets and are well-respected in the Western World for this. Many of these cooperatives are labelled as being fair trade and command higher prices for this title.


Coffee is widely grown in parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, particularly in the Eastern part of the country. Almost 183 million pounds of coffee are grown in the Congo in 1991, but this number has dropped by about ten percent to 2018. However, much of this statistical decrease can be due to pricing anomalies. Many Congolese farmers smuggle their coffee beans into Rwanda and Uganda to earn higher prices, which may reduce the number listed in the statistics.


Many Congolese view coffee as a way of achieving significant riches, even though the average amount that these coffee farmers earn are significantly lower than other parts of the world. For example, the average amount of 67 cents per pound for a grower in the Congo is much less than the $1.88 earned per grower in Cuba.


For their part, many of the coffee cooperatives indicate that there is little they can do to help the coffee growers in the Congo due to the challenging agricultural conditions in the country for the crop. Any cost of living improvements appear to be far in the future for Congolese coffee growers.


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