The north-east of the Democratic Republic of Congo is home to one of the largest producers of essential oils: Avituri. This fair trade and organic geranium oil farm and distillery was created by Charles Ndabazaki in 2009 on his return from Uganda.
Five years earlier, he had indeed had to cross the border to escape the civil war and work as a labourer in an aromatic plant farm. Today, Avituri itself provides work for returning refugees, many of whom are single mothers. 80% of plantation workers are women. Avituri has received financial support from the CCT in 2014 to double its geranium production and diversify into other crops such as thyme and tagetes.
By 2015, Avituri’s fair trade and organic production had already increased by 42%. Their essential oils of geranium, thyme and lemon eucalyptus have since been available to around 20 European customers, including two in Belgium. The Fair for Life premium of $12.5 per kilo generated some $15,000 in 2015. One third is paid directly to the workers, one third is used to continue to meet the certifier’s conditions, and a final third goes to socio-economic projects for the benefit of the entire community.