Mutombo Coffee source DR Congo says: “Life has changed thanks to Coffee”


The Democratic Republic of Congo is better known for the brutality of its many rebel groups than the quality of its coffee, but one project is trying to change that.

An ideal climate and hilly terrain has seen generations of farmers grow Arabica coffee on Idjwi island in Lake Kivu, located between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda.

More recently, thousands of ex-combatants, including Koko Bikuba, say working here has changed their lives. “When we arrived in this place, people were afraid of us,” the 37-year-old says. “My life has changed thanks to this work. I take care of six children who are studying.” It clearly heartens Mr Bikuba that some people on Idjwi who initially wrote him and his colleagues off as “thieves and killers” have since warmed to them.

“The turmoil of the forest is far from me now and I’m financially stable,” he adds, thanks to his job in logistics on the plantation. Almost 2,400 former fighters are employed as farmers on Idjwi by the Co-operative Company of Innovative Coffee producers in Kivu (SCPNCK). They are mostly former militia fighters, although some, including Mr Bikuba, used to be soldiers.