Gorongosa Mountain, The Site of War Now Home to 300,000 Coffee Plants

Gorongosa Mountain, The Site of War Now Home to 300,000 Coffee Plants (News Central TV)

‘The relationship between the indigenous plants and coffee is that coffee does grow very well in the shade and the community has destroyed this Gorongosa mountain, so we have put in an objective to reforest it’

This exciting news is coming from Juliasse Sabao who fled to Zimbabwe to escape Mozambique’s civil war. While away as a refugee, waiting for the country to heal, he discovered coffee in Zimbabwe, and then, brought that knowledge back with him to help restore the Gorongosa, a mountain at the southern end of the Great African Rift Valley in the heart of central Mozambique.

In recent years, the rainforest on Mount Gorongosa has been growing back. But years back, during the civil war, the Renamo Rebels at Gorongosa were forced to live off the land and hunted its wildlife for food. By the time the war came to a close in 1992, the wildlife of the park had been decimated and many of the creatures were casualties of the conflict. Sabao, who now works for Gorongosa National Park, picked up what was left of the park in an attempt to restore the mountain, which had largely been cut off from the world for decades. Sabao is currently teaching the communities in the area new ways of farming.

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Aside from the coffee plant, which takes several years to become productive, he has included food crops that will help support the community.

When Sabao returned to the Mountain, the entire park which was once covered with bright green and lush vegetation was deserted and much of the ancient rainforest on the mountain had been lost.

‘Before all this area was dead: no trees, no nothing was here. But now if you look you see big trees coming back so there’s a very big difference, which means we are successful in our project for reforestation.’

The forest has been growing back, revived thanks to the previously foreign ‘coffee’ crop that now grows in the midst of this rainforest, reversing the degradation of ecosystems. This initiative is helping in the reforestation of the park, creating additional income through coffee but also intercropping with other cultures while the coffee is growing.

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What started as a little project, led by Sabao, Gorongosa coffee is now being exported around the world, with profits invested back into the plantation. According to the World Bank, Gorongosa now has some 300,000 coffee plants as well as 400,000 cashew trees, 400 beehives and 300 new jobs.

With one coffee plant at a time, Sabao and communities are rebuilding their lives, reviving the environment around them and saving a unique Mozambican forest.

~ Godwin ‘Oriaku

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