After gaining independence from Sudan only four years ago, South Sudan has been mired in a civil war for almost its entire life. But there may be hope at least in one area: The country is fantastically well-suited for growing coffee, and the very first South Sudanese coffee products will be available later this month.
South Sudan mostly earns headlines in the worst possible way; its civil rights abuses are horrifying, shocking, and extremely common, a result of a rampaging civil war with little international intervention. We don't mean to ignore that element of the country, and recommend anyone who's interested read this recent overview of the conflict from the Telegraph.
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But it's also important to discuss the positive aspects of South Sudan, one of which is the rebounding coffee industry. (Which, of course, is an industry with its own problems, but, you know, gotta start somewhere.)
South Sudan borders major coffee-growing countries like Kenya and Ethiopia, and large chunks of the landlocked country share the climate and environment that made those African nations so successful in the coffee world. In fact, South Sudan is one of the few places left on Earth where coffee bushes still grow in the wild, outside the plantation systems.
South Sudan's coffee possibilities have not been ignored by either non-profits or corporations; as soon as the country declared its independence, non-profit TechnoServe and extremely for-profit company Nespresso (a subsidiary of Nestle) teamed up to issue more than $2.5 million to create three cooperatives of South Sudanese coffee farmers, about 300 of which have signed up so far. (There's a long waiting list, too.)
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The cooperatives have allowed the construction of the machinery necessary to process the coffee and ship it out to companies (ahem, like Nespresso).
The very first 100-percent South Sudanese coffee to be exported from the country will be sold later this month, albeit only in France. The coffee, in Nespresso's trademark pods, will be called Suluja ti South Sudan, which means "beginning of South Sudan" in the native Kakwa language. Hopefully it really is!
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