Announcing ECI’s new Congo Farmer Trust
In 2017, ECI is launching the Congo Farmer Trust (CFT). Over the next five years, the Congo Farmer Trust (CFT) will invest $12.5M in eastern Congo, directly transforming the lives of more than 150,000 people and catalyzing the agriculture sector in eastern Congo for sustainable economic growth.
Our Proven Model
In 2012, ECI began a bold journey to revitalize the Congolese coffee and cocoa sectors, where two decades of instability had decreased production by 75%. ECI has since catalyzed the smallholder coffee and cocoa value chains in Eastern Congo by connecting smallholder family farms to international markets. With seed funding from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation and USAID, ECI’s efforts have:
- Tripled incomes of nearly 5,000 coffee farmers;
- Attracted Starbucks to purchase more than 100 tons of specialty - grade Congolese coffee
- Enabled Theo Chocolate purchases of 1,300 tons of Congolese cocoa beans - enough for 9 million chocolate bars.
- Partnered on Starbucks’s release of its first single - origin Congo coffee in 1,600 stores in March 2016
ECI and its strong collaborators have achieved these significant accomplishments by:
- Increasing coffee and cocoa supply quality by building cooperative structures, improving farmer business acumen and increasing worker output capacities;
- Creating value chains through corporate and public-private partnerships that directly connect farmer cooperatives to exporters and end buyers.
- Enhancing advocacy with the Congolese government to implement the DRC Agricultural Law as well as address coffee tax and export barriers to value chain efficiencies.
Our Approach to Scale
ECI’s 5-year projection is that the eastern region of DRC can increase its production of specialty coffee from 1,000 tons to 10,000 tons annually. However, significant obstacles remain to scaling coffee and cocoa production quality and quantity for the specialty market. To help realize this region’s potential and drive Congo’s social and economic development, ECI is launching the Congo Farmer Trust in 2017.
The CFT aims to build upon the foundation of ECI’s successful model of building profitable and sustainable agriculture businesses that link smallholder coffee and cocoa farmers to commercial buyers. These new market opportunities will triple the income of 25,000 farmers, giving the farmers and their families the resources needed to expand their businesses, send their children to school, put food on the table, and access healthcare. Simultaneously, ECI will also make grants and provide technical support to local Congolese community-based organizations (CBO’s) to ensure high-quality social services are available to meet the growing demand and resource base.
Four Functions of the Congo Farmer Trust
- Support farmer training to ensure agricultural quality and productivity is consistent with commercial expectations and garners thehighest market price for smallholder farmers
- Support farmer organizations, such as cooperatives, to ensure they are viable businesses capable of managing international supplychains and share profits equitably across members
- Support local organizations to ensure abundant, high - quality social services are available for farming families
- Provide advocacy to improve the operating environment and bring new investors to Congo