A Fairtrade certification brings many advantages: it ensures consumers that they are buying a good quality product in accordance with social, environmental and economic standards. Smallholder farmers benefit from a Fairtrade premium and receive a minimum price which protects them in case market prices drop. That is why Incofin assists their Congolese partner organization to acquire the Fairtrade certificate.
Incofin IM recently launched a technical assistance project with the Congolese (DRC) coffee cooperative SOPROCOPIV, an investee of Incofin since February 2020, via Incofin’s Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF). The Technical Assistance project is co-financed by the Technical Assistance facility of the FAF (TAF) funded by KFW, FMO and BIO. The cooperative, who already has the UTZ, Organic and Fair for Life certifications, expressed its strong willingness to become Fairtrade certified by the end of 2021.
The Fairtrade audit cannot be conducted on site for security and infrastructure reasons, SOPROCOPIV is part of the pilot program for “certification in special conditions“. The process will be conducted online and before performing the audit, the cooperative needs to comply with it. Incofin supports SOPROCOPIV in acquiring the Fairtrade certification by training its agronomists on the certification standards and helping the cooperative in the required documentation of processes before the audit. As a result of this project, SOPROCOPIV expects to have no less than 5,036 farmers Fairtrade certified by 2022.
Fairtrade certified coffee farmers benefit from Fairtrade premiums and receive as well the minimum price which provides a vital safety net in case the market prices drop. The cooperative will also attract more buyers and sell more quality products.
The cooperative has shown great enthusiasm and motivation since the start of the project. As of today, 3,350 farmers have been trained on the Fairtrade standards already.
”We sincerely thank the Fairtrade Access Fund through its Technical Assistance department for agreeing to accompany SOPROCOPIV in the process of Fairtrade certification. This assistance plays a great role in this process because it allows the cooperative to have an expert consultant in certification who is now supervising and training us on the different Fairtrade standards. This assistance has a positive impact because it responds to a real need that SOPROCOPIV has to certify its members in order to promote a fair trade along the whole value chain and to benefit from these advantages aiming at improving the lives of the farmers.” – Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV
Covid-19 crisis relief
SOPROCOPIV will be the first investee of the Fairtrade Access Fund that will be supported by the Fairtrade COVID-19 Producer Funds. Faitrade International launched the funds, co-financed by TAF, last year to meet the immediate needs of farmers, workers and their communities, while also establishing a foundation for longer-term economic recovery efforts.
Incofin’s grant will support SOPROCOPIV’s campaign to raise awareness among its members and their families on how to contain the spread of the virus. The cooperative has distributed information leaflets, washable masks and soap to its members and has sensitized them on the importance of adhering to the essential health measures. In addition, it will install water tanks in two villages that have no water access.
“The approval and execution of this project was a salvation and allowed all the members of our cooperative to benefit from some necessary kits for the prevention of this pandemic such as soaps, nose covers, water tanks in gathering places like washing stations and factories for the regular washing of hands. The project has enabled the cooperative to strengthen the capacities of its members by sensitizing them on the protection and the fight against the coronavirus. We thank the FAF TAF for this support and encourage it to support other initiatives to improve the welfare of rural farmers.” – Jean-Marie Muhindo Malekani, President of SOPROCOPIV
SOPROCOPIV is a Congolese coffee cooperative located in the Butembo region of North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Established in 2008 by a group of smallholder farmers, the cooperative has been growing from year to year to go from 1,408 members at its creation to 7,636 in April 2021. SOPROCOPIV is recognized as the biggest sustainably certified cooperative in the Butembo region. Its mission is to bring Congolese coffee production to a competitive level throughout the world in order to valorize the efforts of farmers by offering them the best prices and premiums for excellence through the quality certificates obtained.
About the Fairtrade Access Fund (FAF)
Read more about FAF in the Annual Report 2020.