Home » From Diamonds to Food: The Choice of Agriculture Against Food Insecurity in the DRC – Tambour des villages

From Diamonds to Food: The Choice of Agriculture Against Food Insecurity in the DRC – Tambour des villages

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From Diamonds to Food: The Choice of Agriculture Against Food Insecurity in the DRC – Tambour des villages

With an area of ​​approximately 2.345 million km², the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the largest countries in Africa. The country has considerable agricultural potential, possessing nearly 80 million hectares of arable land. However, this potential agricultural wealth contrasts sharply with the current socio-economic reality of the country. According to a joint report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), more than a quarter of the country’s population – more than 25 million people – faces severe food insecurity.

Mbujimayi is a town and the capital of Kasaï-Oriental province, in the south-central Democratic Republic of the Congo

Greenery near homes in the villages, proof of the agricultural wealth of Congolese lands.

The Diamond is Their choice…

But Congo is not just about arable land. It’s also a country rich in minerals, with a diversity of wealth in all the regions that constitute it. For example, in the Greater Kasai region, diamonds predominate. The city of Mbujimayi, capital of the Kasai-Oriental province, is so associated with this precious resource that it is commonly called a “diamond city”.

Diamond purchasing offices in the city center of Tshikapa, capital of the Kasai province

In other words, it is a city rich in diamonds and business linked to these minerals. An indisputable fact, who does not know MIBA in Congo? La Minière de Bakwanga (MIBA) is a mining company that has had a great economic influence in the region. But it was a different time. Today, this company which was once the economic lifeblood of the city has been bankrupt for more than ten years. This bankruptcy dealt a heavy blow to the city’s economy where living has become expensive and a large part of the population suffers from food insecurity. And this, despite the arable land that this region has. Diamonds were not only exploited by MIBA and other mining companies, but also by the population who dug and continue to dig illegally in the mines to fish out one or more stones to resell to diamond buyers, also called “traffickers”. . Digging and finding a diamond is seen as winning the lottery. People resell their finds but often overspend their money because they think they will always be able to dig and find more stones. It seems that diamonds, although at one time contributed to the development of the city, ultimately did a disservice to the population of the region.

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Cultivating the land is for the villagers, they say…

However, Kasai is one of the regions of Congo with very arable land. But many in the region have become convinced that agriculture is a profession for villagers, and not for city dwellers. And so, the villages cultivate and produce not only for themselves, but also to feed the city which will pay in money. It is rare to find vegetable gardens in people’s plots in Mbujimayi town. No matter how much green space people have around their house, they do not have the culture to grow even simple vegetables. So, Mbujimayi residents buy everything from tomatoes to cassava leaves (Pondu, Matamba) as they are called locally. However, these green spaces around the houses are rich and arable. Sometimes you just need to drop a seed on the ground and see it germinate after a few days.

The vegetable garden of Mr. Ntambua, a resident of the town of Mbujimayi

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But he made a choice, not to buy anything…

Vegetables consumed by residents of the town of Mbujimayi mainly come from surrounding villages. Women, commonly called “mum sellers”, go either directly to these villages or to a specific meeting point to obtain supplies from local farmers. However, not all vegetables come from villages. There are also local producers in Mbujimayi, people who have chosen to cultivate the land despite the prejudices associated with agriculture.

One of them is Ntambua, originally from Bena Manda, a village not far from Mbujimayi. He has lived in Mbujimayi for over 20 years. When he arrived in town, he was upset that he had to buy all his vegetables at the market. So, he looked for land to grow his own vegetables. He found one near Mbujimayi Bridge on the Lubilanji River. This marshy land is now a productive vegetable garden where Ntambua grows vegetables, raises fish and plants trees.

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Mr. Ntambua, his vegetable garden and fish pond, located in the town of Mbujimayi near the Lubilanji River.

Ntambua says those who see agriculture as an activity reserved for villagers do not yet understand everything. According to him, we have very arable land from which we must take advantage. By choosing to cultivate the land, Ntambua became self-sufficient. He no longer needs to buy his vegetables at the market because he produces them himself. In addition, “seller mothers” come to her vegetable garden to buy vegetables to resell. So not only does Ntambua have enough vegetables for his family, but he also generates income from his sales.

Women, vegetable sellers in the Mbujimayi markets, came to buy tomatoes from Mr. Ntambua’s vegetable garden to resell them in the markets.

Despite the stigma attached to being a farmer in this town, Ntambua chose food self-sufficiency. Fortunately, things are starting to change in Mbujimayi. Residents are beginning to understand the importance of investing in agriculture and working the land. More and more young people are turning to agronomy studies at local universities.

It is hoped that the arable lands of Kasai will one day be fully exploited by the inhabitants of the region. This would reduce food insecurity and avoid increases in food prices.

Discover below through some photos Mr. Ntambua’s vegetable garden. He produces his own seeds and there is almost never a shortage of fruit in his space!

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