The rich mix of volcanic soil of the Isale region in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and plentiful moisture fed through from the Great Lakes, provides fertile ground for happy, healthy coffee trees.

But the high moisture content also poses a problem. It loosens the structure of the soil, causing erosion, which in turn depletes organic matter leading to soil degradation.

To combat this, Olam’s agronomists are supplying Virunga’s coffee farmers with lemongrass. Known for its lemon-citrusy fragrance, commonly used as a seasoning in Asian cuisine and aromatic tea, the fibrous root system of the lemongrass plant has been proven to be an efficient soil binder to strengthen soil structure and prevent erosion.

Grown in the local nurseries along with a variety of shade trees and young coffee plants, the agronomists have been raising awareness of the multiple benefits of this unlikely remedy. As well as improving soil health, its medicinal properties when applied on the body are recommended for repelling malaria carrying mosquitos, amongst other illnesses.

Our agronomists make it a habit to distribute lemongrass along with coffee plantlets and shade trees free of charge to most deserving planters and are sold at subsidised prices to coffee growers throughout the area.