- Our Action
Bénin - Market gardening
Bénin - Market gardening
We help cooperative market gardeners in Benin
to improve their farming practices
A long history of solidarity binds us to the Copargo market gardeners from the north of Benin. We went there for the first time in 2008 to create water retention solutions. We are now helping 12 market gardening cooperatives to improve their productivity. One thing has motivated us since the start of this project: to help farmers make a better living from their profession.
Beninese market gardening needs support
The market gardening industry receives little support from the Beninese state. Farmers often find themselves alone in the face of the vagaries of the climate, in particular, which affect their crops. In the region of Copargo, in the north of Benin, many of them have joined cooperatives or groups, which are themselves part of the Copargo union of cooperatives.
A long-standing commitment
It was in 2008 — with Le Coeur de Nouricia — that we first went to Copargo to implement water retention solutions (in riverbeds or through wells) needed for market gardening. In 2013, we financed the construction of a dam in the village of Séméré. This facility now enables around 50 market gardeners to produce crops all year round, from tomatoes to peppers, cabbage, and lettuce. It transformed life in the village!
Originally, we helped four cooperatives, but news of our work's results got around, and interest grew. Today, we provide support for all the cooperative members of the Copargo union of market gardeners, as well as others from the villages of Gaounga and Séméré. That represents 12 cooperatives – including two women's cooperatives – making up 300 market gardeners…
The support of Le CŒUR de VIVESCIA
Since 2016, our support has taken the form of technical advice. Specifically, we finance agricultural technicians who advise the cooperative's market gardeners, visiting them twice a year in order to help them improve their practices, and therefore their productivity, so that they can make a living from their profession.
The first visits soon proved successful. In 2018, we brought together all the cooperatives' groups' presidents in order to define an even more detailed roadmap together: preparation of compost, creation of nurseries, economic management of a field, biological control, economic calculations, and the creation of a teaching field for demonstrations. Since then, our remit has expanded every year depending on their needs and progress.
Today, Le CŒUR de VIVESCIA is funding three local agricultural technicians — all former executives of Carder (the equivalent of our chamber of agriculture) — who are helping all 12 cooperatives.
Le CŒUR de VIVESCIA and Copargo's market gardeners:
- 12 cooperatives
- 300 market gardeners supported
- 3 agricultural technicians funded by the association
Testimonial by Donatien Aplogan: Technician coordinator
Donatien lives in Djoubou, 20 km south of Copargo. He has spent his whole career at Carder, the equivalent of our chamber of agriculture. He has been working with Copargo's market gardeners since 2016.
How is this support organised?
Everything starts with the diagnostic: we evaluate the market gardeners' situation in order to identify their strengths, potential, weaknesses, and threats for the cooperative. We pay close attention to the location of the farm — lowlands, slopes, plateaus, etc. – and consumers' needs in order to best advise them on which crops to grow. A plan is established with each group or cooperative. Visits are organised twice a month, but we can do more at the farmers' request, depending on the urgency of subjects to be discussed. We also train them on certain practices. Many of these farmers cannot read or write, so we do demonstrations for them on site.
What practices do you implement with these market gardeners?
Our training focuses on good market gardening techniques: making and using compost, creating and managing nurseries, crop selection and rotation, making and preparing beds, mulching seed beds, the local production of seeds, irrigation, harvesting, and storage. We also teach them how to prepare biological control and plant health products. And finally, we can advise them on the organisation of sales or how groups and cooperatives work and are run. We can see the progress in the field quite clearly. It's satisfying.
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