This is the final part of Bastiaan Huesken’s reportage on the challenges facing agriculture and infrastructure in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following articles on the multitudes of problems facing the country, this piece highlights some of the successes of Projet Riz.
Bastiaan is currently conducting an impact assessment of Projet Riz, a development project by Heineken International NV and the European Cooperative for Rural Development (Eucord) in the DRC. The project, focusing on smallholder rice farmers, has led Bastiaan to some of the most remote areas of country.
For more from this series see:
In 2009 Bralima SARL – a subsidiary of Heineken International NV– and the European Cooperative for Rural Development (Eucord) launched Projet Riz, a development project targeting rural poverty, food insecurity and access to primary education in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Specifically, the project aims to improve smallholder farmers’ productive capacity and catalyse the commercialisation of rice production by facilitating workshops detailing modern farming techniques, improving access to agricultural inputs such and crucially, by integrating smallholder rice farmers into the Bralima brewery’s supply chain.
By Bastiaan Huesken, 25th July, 2012.
Bralima, Eucord and their partners seek to assuage the difficulties imposed by the deplorable state of the roads in a series of manners. Around Bumba, SOCAM NT, Bralima’s commercial partner undertakes the transportation of paddy from the production sites to Bumba where the company owns a rice mill. SOCAM NT buys paddy at 12 collection points which the company has set up along the two main production axes in the Bumba region, the Yandongi and the Bokata axes. In so doing, the company relieves farmers of transportation costs and challenges and facilitates market access.
A collection point at Deki. The collection points have had a positive impact upon smallholder rice farmers’ market access.
Bralima has employed several barges like the ‘Primus II’ pitured above to transport rice down the Congo from Bumba to Mbandaka and Kinshasa.
The project has borne fruit. Commerce has returned to Bumba. Political instability and physical insecurity debilitated the local economy in Bumba, historically dependent primarily on agriculture. Now, financed by revenue derived from rice production commercial activity is picking up.
Many small businesses have been started throughout rice producing areas as a product of revenue generated by rice production. Pictured above is Franklin with his boutique ‘Franklin du Ciel’.
Rice production has taken off in the Kisangani area, stimulating a surge in commercial activity.