The Rusizi Plain lies next to the border between DRC and Burundi, south of Bukavu and north of Uvira. The people living there suffered throughout the first and second Congolese wars when troops moved across the border and thousands of refugees lived in camps alongside the 8,000 rice farmers eking out a living from small plots.
Today the insecurity continues with several armed groups still operating and malnutrition is widespread with many children showing advanced signs of kwashiorkor.
. Even in these difficult circumstances the region has begun to move forward thanks to the work of several rice co-operatives founded by the growers, the largest of which is ADPA based in Luvungi in the north of the plain.
Ensemble Pour la Difference started working with ADPA eighteen ago by facilitating a $30,000 loan from Luminosity to fund an order for 450 tonnes of rice from the Bralima Brewery in Bukavu. Since then the loan has been recycled and increased thanks to the support given by Luminosity and Harriet Hall in the UK
PROGRESS SO FAR
The loans facilitated by Ensemble boosted Bralima’s confidence in ADPA, which led initially to the award of a contract to supply 450 tonnes per year. The contract was increased to 650 tonnes for the year to March 2016 and has since been increased to 1,000 tonnes for the year to March 2017.
Each increase in the order has brought an incremental 1500 rice farmers into the scheme. The cooperative ensures they receive a significantly better price than that available in local markets and they have access to a fund for when they need credit for example to pay school fees. The cooperative also provides a base level of medical support and agronomic advice to improve yields.
Approximately 5000 rice growers now supply ADPA, which means that approximately 30,000 children have felt the benefits. The impact is tangible. They are better fed and live in better houses. They go to school and medicine is affordable when they are ill.
The contract with Bralima and resulting progress has also enabled ADPA to begin implementing plans for producing table rice alongside the rice produced for Bralima. In the next two years ADPA will ensure the contract with Bralima provides the finances and momentum to begin producing and selling table rice and drive towards a balanced supply of different qualities of rice, eventually without the need for loan