In the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo new business opportunities arise for coffee nursery growers. The New York Stock Exchange shows a growing trend for Arabica coffee, and large buyers show renewed interest for Congolese Arabica. Yet the plantations are old and the production needs to be increased. After working with farmer organisations for the production of coffee seedlings, VECO changed its paradigm and now co-invests in the businesses of private nursery growers.
Wednesday 1st of February 2017 in Beni city. VECO RDCongo holds its side event during the week for promotion of agribusiness that is taking place here, organised by the Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC).
“The current situation is favourable”, says Ivan Godfroid, regional director of VECO RDCongo. “The growing trend for Arabica coffee on Wall Street offers better prices and brings farmers back to coffee growing. With its coffee programme, VECO demonstrates that Congolese Arabica is a speciality coffee of superb quality that can reach far better prices than what is currently the case in the New York Stock Exchange. The commercial approach leads to growing income for the members of the coffee cooperatives – doubling or tripling, depending on the upscaling level.”
The international context looks promising, but locally the situation is almost alarming: coffee trees have grown old, as did the farmers. “On average, farmers are between 55 and 60 years of age, and coffee trees are between 35 and 50 years old. Because there are no regeneration cuts or general land management operations, productivity is low”, Godfroid confirms. This raises concerns for the future of the coffee industry. The offer of Arabica coffee could be much lower than the demand, which is steadily growing by 2 to 3% yearly. The attractive potential of the global market generates enthusiasm for an increase in production. “We must therefore support the planting of young coffee trees by making quality seedlings available.”