The Solidarity for Promotion of Coffee Actions and Integral Development, SOPACDI in acronym, is a cooperative grouping, as of June 2019, 11736 small coffee producers (3468 women) whose head office is located in Tsheya on the peninsula. Buzi-Bulenga Island in Kalehe Territory, South Kivu Province in DR Congo. It was created in 2003 by 276 small producers including 3 women at the initiative of MUNGANGA MAHEMU Joachim.
The Congolese knew coffee by working in the plantations of Belgian colonists; he will imitate this culture after independence in 1960, a culture that will be profitable in his socio-economic life.
Later, the coffee being hit by the effects of the country’s economic policy (Zairianization, …), its production dropped and Congolese coffee gradually lost its presence in the international market … so its price could only drop over time.
In search of this market in neighboring countries, including Rwanda, unofficially, those who became members of SOPACDI or their parents engaged in the practice of smuggling through Lake Kivu but through a means very insecure and unsafe, small wooden canoes, which could carry less than half a ton of coffee.
Despite the risks to which the smugglers were exposed, at the beginning this activity seemed profitable: after the sale of coffee, they returned with manufactured products such as sheet metal, sewing machines, bicycles, clothes, … Nevertheless, to In the long run, there were more disadvantages than advantages: huge losses of property and human life due to drowning or assassination by gangs of bandits. The practice of the unconditional smuggling becoming the cause not only of several widows and orphans but also of impoverishment of the populations and especially that in the country the price was lean without forgetting also the political crisis in the said neighboring country, several chose the abandonment from coffee growing to food products such as cassava, banana, etc ….
Purpose of creation
Some coffee growers including Mr. Mungnga Mahemu Joachim could not bear the shock of abandoning the coffee culture that supported his parents for the survival of the family and his own schooling since childhood.
Clearly, the problems directly related or not to the following coffee pushed him to break the silence and to have the idea to find the more or less durable solution to the economic crisis of the populations of which it was a part:
- Coffee has supported the socio-economic life of the population of our region but it has remained poor;
- The woman was disadvantaged / exploited in the coffee culture mainly because of the custom; it served as labor and the man gave him no place in decision-making on the use of income from the sale of coffee;
- The coffee which was at the origin of several cases of drowning during the traffics in Rwanda; widows, widowers and orphans remained desperately poor and poor;
- Civil and ethnic wars have divided peoples and torn the economic fabric of the region;
- Young people (orphans or not), idle or idle, found no other means of survival than to enlist in the militia; Discourage recruitment of youth into militia
Thus, in search of solutions more or less appropriate and durable to all these problems, was born the idea of the creation of a project which would serve for:
- Participate in the revival of the coffee culture to support the domestic and national economy;
- Promote gender in the coffee sector;
- Ensure the traceability of coffee in the region and discourage smuggling which was losing a lot of huge revenue to the public treasury and goods and human lives of people;
- Create jobs for the benefit of young people and discourage their recruitment into the militia and discourage rural depopulation depopulating the villages;
- Unify and pacify the peoples who were divided by the civil wars in the region.
Members of SOPACDI are very well identified. Each year, the list is updated yearly .
Technically SOPACDI remains a cooperative of first degree. But to manage the huge number of members we use intermediate structures: sectors and cells. SOPACDI is subdivided into 21 sectors which are further subdivided into 129 cells; each sector comprising at least 5 cells is headed by a Sector President. Each cell is run by a committee of at least 6 elected members including a co-opted woman. The number of sectors and cells may vary if SOPACDI allows new members to join new areas.
The (representative) General Assembly of the cooperative is formed by the members of all the cells which usually sit once a year. The committees of the cells are found in the sectors and prepare the sectoral GA before the holding of the representative general assembly.
Each sector president is ex officio a member of the Board of Directors according to the statutes. There are 27 members in the board in total, including 9 women; The Board meets once a quarter.
The supervisory board is made up of three members, one of whom is a woman. It meets once a quarter.
Works the promotion of gender, integration and the involvement of women in the management of the cooperative pushed the leaders of the cooperative to include in its statutes this body. At each sector level there is a committee made up of women from the cells and at the head of a women’s central committee. They meet in quarterly basis . This body is a branch of the board of directors.
All the bodies of the cooperative are constituted by direct election (Cell Committees) and indirectly (members of the Board of Directors, Supervisory Board, Women’s Committee) or by designation (for women on the Board)