A LEADING RICE CO-OPERATIVE ON THE RUSIZI PLAIN
LOCATION: Rusizi Plain
Partner since: 2014
The Rusizi Plain lies next to the country border between DRC and Burundi.
The people living on the plain suffered throughout the first and second Congolese wars when troops moved across the border and thousands of Congolese refugees lived in camps alongside the 8,000 rice farmers squeezing a living from small plots. Instability continues to this day with several armed groups based in the area.
The insecurity has led the Monusco to classify the region as 'red', which is the highest level of concern and means we have to make arrangements with the authorities when travelling through the region. It's neither easy nor safe.
Decades of conflict and poverty have taken their toll on the people, especially the children. Malnutrition is widespread with many showing advanced signs of Kwashiorkor.
L’Association Pour le Developpement des Paysans Agriculteurs (APDA) was founded in 2003 as a farmers’ cooperative on the Ruisizi Plain.
There are 8,000 rice growers on the Plain operating through 37 co-operatives of varying size and legal structure.
Rather than the ad hoc approach to sales that had been common amongst the growers, ADPA was established to secure a legally registered, well-managed entity that would provide growers with an opportunity for more secured sales contracts and a regular source of income.
Ensemble Pour la Difference started working with ADPA in 2014 ago by facilitating a loan to fund an order for 450 tonnes of rice from the Bralima Brewery in Bukavu. The loan enabled ADPA to buy and store sufficient rice during the 6-month harvesting period to continue monthly deliveries all year.
The loan also boosted Bralima’s confidence in ADPA and an annual contract for 650 tonnes was agreed for 2015. Ensemble agreed to increase the loan in order to help facilitate the contract and we maintained our financial support when the order from Bralima was increased further in 2016 and again in 2017.
With our support, the order for 2018 was 1,000 tonnes. It made a significant difference to life on the plain, especially for the children. They are better fed and live in better houses. They go to school and medicine is affordable when they are ill.
ADPA now supplies 35% of Bralima’s total brewery rice. Ensemble financing has set ADPA apart from the 26 other cooperatives on the Plain who have been unable to secure outside financing or negotiate and maintain high-value supply contracts.
Instead, ADPA - in addition to buying rice from their 2,300 members - has also been able to buy rice from other smaller co-operatives on the Plain, expanding the financial and social impact of the Bralima supply contract.
In order to address ongoing challenges for securing working capital and to further strengthen the monetary well-being of their members, ADPA recognise the need to enter new markets. Over the next 18 months, Ensemble will work with ADPA and other rice cooperatives on the Rusizi Plain to develop a go-to-market strategy that will diversify their product offering to include table rice.