For decades the Democratic Republic of Congo has been ravaged by war and localized fighting resulting in an ongoing and severe humatarian crisis. The fighting has created thousands upon thousands of in-country refugees suffering from malnutrition, a lack of security, and sadly, death.
This horrific backdrop presents untold challenges for Societe Maitea co-founders Eba Murua and Wally Mahindu. Using coffee production to forge a path for economic success and social stability, Eba and Wally hope to make a difference within the local Kivu community as well as demonstrate the high quality of DRC specialty coffee to the rest of the world.
Located to the North of the DRC province of South Kivu, close to the Rwandan border, sits the town of Minova at the head of Kabuno Bay perched at the tip of Lake Kivu. Since 1994, the town has grown considerably in size, primarily due to influxes of refugees from the 1st and 2nd Congo wars as well as local fighting.
Since 2014, little by little, the economy of the region has begun to grow thanks to the help of international partners who came looking to purchase coffee. Unfortunately, these initial purchases were bought at very low prices, exacerbating the problems of malnutrition, health, and poor education. As the year turned to 2018, in came Societe Maitea owners Eba and Wally. Since day one they’ve working tirelessly to address the region’s beleaguered history while improving the social development of its people. With the help of their exceptionally hard working team, in 2019, Societe Maitea and the local cooperative produced their first fully washed Arabica lot from their local washing station in Minova.
The province of South Kivu benefits from fertile soil which makes the area a rich location for farming, with organic compost being the only fertilizer needed. On average, each individual will own less than 1 hectare of land meaning annual coffee production tends to be as small as 750Kgs (12 sacks) per farm. To supplement their income, farmers grow a variety of other produce such as beans, corn and bananas providing income year round.
Coffee washing stations can be found on average every 2KM in the region, but Societe Maitea prefers to use their own station at the Lake Kivu site to process and classify coffee brought to them by farmers. Coffee is processed in “day lots” with assessment for classification beginning with the coffee cherry being placed on canvass beds and sorted, removing any undesirable cherries. Next, cherries are submerged in cold, clean water and floated to separate the poor quality cherries (floaters). Any cherry that floats is removed. Next, coffee cherries are pulped before being left to ferment for 12 hours overnight (8pm – 8am) in a dry fermentation tank. Finally, the coffee is washed to remove any final impurities and bad colored parchment before being dried, graded and prepared for export.
By producing truly excellent coffee, Societe Maitea is working to aid the social development of the local population through their recently created Maitea Foundation. The primary objectives of the Foundation are to improve health, education and conservation. Societe Maitea aims to achieve this by a variety of means:
Health: Support women living in dangerous conditions as well as feed malnourished children via the one meal for every child program.
Education: Increase literacy for women in coffee, as well as the creation of specialty programs for children with disabilities (currently unavailable in the region).
Conservation: Improve nature and conservation awareness in the region via their partnership with Goma schools.
Societe Maitea has already hit the ground running by building a new water pump and completing a compost management program. It also actively participates in farming projects in local schools providing education for the next generation. Eba and Wally’s efforts to fighting the issues of the region will benefit the local community, and as Societe Maitea continues to grow, they will continue to nurture change for the better.
Fiddleheads is proud to support Eba and Wally in their efforts to bring stability to the region.
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