DRC – International development organizations, USAID, TechnoServe, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and Asili, have partnered with leading food industry players Nespresso and Olam Food Ingredients to launch the Gorilla Coffee Alliance in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The five-year initiative is aimed to breathe new life into the region’s coffee industries and communities, in a bid to foster vital economic growth in the coffee sector while preserving local ecosystems in Kivu.
One of its main focuses is to reduce the threat facing the region’s endemic and critically endangered Grauer’s gorilla and put at bay deforestation around Kahuzi-Biega National Park in DRC’s South Kivu province.
The Kahuzi-Biega National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few remaining habitats of the world’s 6,800 estimated remaining eastern lowland or Grauer’s gorillas.
But, political unrest, population growth, and the absence of sustainable economic opportunities in the area have put the national park and the wildlife it protects at risk from illegal logging, poaching, and mining.
The Gorilla Coffee Alliance aims to address this challenge by helping local families to establish environmentally sustainable ways to earn income, improving access to essential health services, and working with community institutions to become advocates for conserving the national park.
“The greatest force for conservation is a local community that is invested in protecting its natural resources,” said TechnoServe CEO and President William Warshauer.
“We are excited to join these extraordinary partners and apply TechnoServe’s long experience supporting coffee-growing communities to help the people of the Kahuzi-Biega National Park area create healthy communities, sustainable economies, and a flourishing ecosystem.”
The Alliance will improve total farm productivity to support farmer revenues and protect long-term soil health, biodiversity, and the vital ecological function of one of the world’s largest forests.
This will be achieved through training of farmers in regenerative agriculture and help local entrepreneurs and farmers set up nurseries that provide high-quality coffee and shade-tree seedlings.
It will also work with coffee washing stations to enable them to access finance and technical assistance that will improve their capacity to process coffee at quality levels demanded by Nespresso and other specialty markets. Participating washing stations are expected to double their output by 2026.
“Through our Reviving Origins program, we have been working to successfully revitalize production in several challenged coffee producing regions around the world since 2019, and we’re excited about the important projects underway in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
“We strongly believe that coffee can be a force for good, because it can help to shape communities and preserve landscapes, leaving a positive impact on the lives of people and nature,” Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso, said.
Through the Asili platform, the Alliance will improve access to health clinics and clean water points. Lastly, it will help to mobilize existing community governance structures to support conservation and combat poaching, logging, and mining.
“With the help of our partners, we will bring innovation to local farming systems, helping to improve lives and livelihoods, regenerate soils, and protect precious biodiversity in the world’s second-largest tropical forest.
“And using the sustainability insights platform, AtSource, we will be able to monitor the progress we are making towards the desired social and environmental impact,” Vivek Verma, Managing Director and CEO of the OFI coffee business, said.
Nespresso and Olam are key players in the initiative as both have investments in the coffee industry.
Nestlé Nespresso SA is the pioneer and reference for highest-quality portioned coffee while, OFI’s coffee business is one of the largest green coffee origin exporters in the world.