Martial conflicts, mineral resources, Kinshasa – these are the terms often associated with the Democratic Republic of the Congo – the second largest country in Africa, which has so far failed to exploit the wealth of resources needed to improve the daily lives of its roughly 80 million inhabitants in terms of food, education and health.
With 3.1% annual population growth and an explosive rise in Kinshasa's residents from 8 to 12 million in the last 5 years, the economic and social challenges seem to be unsolvable.
Less than 10% of the population has electricity. Only 1.8% of the roads are paved. In some areas, up to 60% of children are not in school because school fees are too high. Food such as rice and poultry are imported. The surrounding area of Kinshasa has been cleared and burnt down for kilometers. Most cooking is done with wood or wood charcoal.
Only a small percentage of the population benefits from the rich mineral resources like gold, diamonds, copper and coltan, while the broad population remains poor. Many mining concessions were given to China.
Nevertheless, there are strong and visionary people in this country who believe in positive change and are starting initiatives for more productive agriculture. The key to this is education. The academic staff of the Loyola University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine in Kimwenza, headed by a team of Congolese Jesuits, enables the students to translate their theoretical knowledge into practice.
For this purpose, a barren land of 157 hectares was purchased about 130 km away from the capital, converted into agricultural land, and a large part of it was planted with rapidly growing local trees. The farm is a model farm for professional cultivation of manioc, maize, vegetables and livestock farming. Teaching, research and application all take place on the grounds. It serves to set an example to be copied many times over in the future, throughout the country, with the intent to make important improvements in food security.
BIOMIN is a partner of this project in Mongata. ERBER Group financed the training center which includes a warehouse. On 1 May 2017, Margarete Erber officially opened the building during a festive ceremony.
The aim is to provide this center not only to the students, but also to enable the farmers in the surrounding villages to learn how to improve the productivity of their land and livestock production. In doing so, they can generate additional income from their own soil, which can ensure a healthy diet for their families and education for their children.