Media CenterCRS Works with Congolese Coffee Farmers Now Selling to Starbucks
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Catholic Relief Services
BALTIMORE, MD, March 22, 2016 – More than 4,000 coffee farmers supported by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have sold 140 tons of specialty-grade coffee to international coffee companies, including Starbucks, which is releasing a single-origin Congo coffee in 1,600 stores throughout the United States and Canada this month.
“We are excited about the opportunities this will create for poor farmers in the DRC,” says Timothy Bishop, CRS’ country representative in the DRC. “Coffee has huge income potential for farmers, but decades of conflict have undermined the industry, and farmers have had few opportunities to export their coffee beans. This will let people know that these farmers produce a product that can stand next to any in the world.”
With funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, CRS is leading a $5 million public-private partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative, an organization founded by actor Ben Affleck that supports economic development in the region, Caritas Bukavu and other local partners.
The project brings together key stakeholders along the coffee value chain – farmer cooperatives, processors, exporters, buyers/roasters, research institutes and government entities – with the goal of helping farmers improve their production, export their harvests and earn sufficient income to help reduce hunger among farm families.
“The coffee sector has improved significantly over the past several years, but farmers still need support to increase yields, quality and post-harvest processing,” says Bishop.
During a recent coffee quality competition in Eastern DRC, coffee produced by CRS-supported farmers was ranked as some of the best in Africa, using international standards. This has helped cooperative members sell it at a significantly better price and bring home more money for their families.
Congolese farmers at least tripled their income since the project started in 2014.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency alleviates suffering and provides assistance to people in need in more than 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. CRS’ relief and development work is accomplished through programs of emergency response, HIV, health, agriculture, education, microfinance and peacebuilding. For more information, please visit crs.org or crsespanol.org and follow CRS on social media: Facebook, @CatholicRelief, @CRSnews, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.