The Mozambican authorities announced today, Monday (13), an increase in the production and export of Gorongosa coffee, with the expansion of cultivation areas following the closure of the last bases of the former Renamo guerrillas.
“Coffee is a crop that is growing year on year. From 2019 to 2022, after the closure of the first Renamo bases, as part of DDR [Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration], there was an increase of 150 tonnes and we expect even more,” said Edna Catondo, coordinator of the quality control area at the Gorongosa Coffee factory.
Edna Catondo, who was speaking to journalists after the visit by Sofala’s Secretary of State, said that since the Gorongosa Coffee project began in 2013, 370 tonnes have been harvested, processed and exported to the UK and South African markets.
“It means that production is increasing, as well as income for local producers, in order to increase family assistance,” he pointed out.
The DDR process, which began in 2018, included 5,221 former guerrillas from Renamo, Mozambique’s largest opposition party, including 257 women, and ended last June with the closure of the Vunduzi base, located in the district of Gorongosa, in the central province of Sofala.
Meanwhile, she explained that since January, 120 tonnes of coffee have been harvested from an area of 309 hectares, compared to 105 in the same period last year, stressing that 915 producers are currently involved in this crop in the Gorongosa district.
On the occasion, the Secretary of State for Sofala province, Cecília Chamutota, said that many local producers are collaborating with the project, which has allowed them not only to learn and get involved in planting coffee and native shade trees, but also to earn income for their families.
She added that planting coffee means that each producer earns 150,000 meticais a year in that territorial constituency.
“The impact of this gain on the lives of producer families is visible, because they are starting to have improved homes and are able, for example, to buy motorbikes for taxi services, among other businesses to support themselves. It’s an undertaking that has a direct impact on the lives of the communities,” said Chamutota.
According to official figures, the population of Gorongosa National Park has been cutting down more than 100 hectares of rainforest every year and coffee planting and production is seen as an alternative activity for these families. A total of 5989 hectares of rainforest have disappeared in 44 years in Serra da Gorongosa.
However, the park wants to reverse this scenario with the cultivation of coffee, the same plant with which it wants to safeguard against a future of uncertain climate and keep rainwater in the mountains, instead of running off with the force of erosion through the bare earth.
The environmental and social experiment of planting coffee began nine years ago.
The area planted by the park and in the gardens of 800 families exceeded 240 hectares for the first time in 2022 and is expected to continue growing, yielding more than 30 tonnes of dried coffee per season.