Joachim Munganga, a former coffee farmer, founde Solidarite Paysanne la Promotion de Actions Café et Development Integras, known as SOPACDI, in 2002. Today, the cooperative organization has more than 5,200 members divided into 10 primary societies. Members of the cooperative represent several different ethnic groups, speaking Kirundi, Kinyarwanda, and Kihavu, and more than 20% of the members are women. It is truly amazing to see the impact that SOPACDI has had on the lives of the people in this region.
It all began in early 2002 when Joachim Munganga set out to restore a washing station in Kivu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Previously, coffee was a huge economic imperative for the region, but years of violence destroyed this sector of the economy, which provided service and market access to the growers in these extremely remote highlands. Before Munganga undertook this work, farmers had little ability to safely and reliably transport coffee to the markets and instead were forced to barter their coffee locally for food, clothing, and necessities. Now, the SOPACDI cooperative allows coffee growers in the surrounding region to access the global specialty coffee market. Moreover, this impressive, vibrant coorperative was the first in DRC to achieve Fair Trade certification - and the Kiluku coffee we serve at Hale also carries organic certification.
These coffees are traceable back to the individual washing stations at which they were processed. At these stations, cooperative members will deliver their coffee in cherry form and receive payment for what they bring, based on volume. Then, the coffee is sorted and separated into lots, depending on the day and the quality.
At the washing station, the coffee is depulped the day it is delivered, and fermented dry for 12 hours. Then it spends 12 underwater before being passed through the washing canal, where it is then soaked for an additional 12 hours. The coffee is dried on raised beds under a cover of shade for 20–25 days. This particular washing station serves 224 producers. The group represents about 116 total hectares of coffee farmland, which is about half a hectare per producer on average.