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Benin – Training for young farmers
Benin – Training for young farmers
We provide financial support for a course that helps Beninese youths become farmers.
Benin already has university degrees in agronomy. They are useful for training a new generation of agronomists who will work in organisations and institutions. But we fell in love with the project of the recently created Govié vocational university institute. Their ambition is to train the next generation of farmers to enable them to make a living from their land.
Promoting the autonomy of farmers, wherever they may be, is one of our priorities, so supporting this course was an easy decision.
A vocational university farming institute
Located in Allada, in southern Benin, the Saint Jean-Eudes de Govié Institute, which opened in 2017, provides two-year courses to train future farmers. To be accepted, students must have access to a plot of land of at least 2 hectares in their village, in order to be operational at the end of their course. Graduates receive a university degree in farming professions that is recognised by the Beninese Ministry for higher education.
A two-year course with a focus on practical skills
In the first year, students alternate theoretical and practical lessons on agriculture, market gardening, and livestock farming at the institute, which cultivates a 30-hectare farm. They are also taught various crop processing techniques. There are dedicated dormitories to accommodate the youths who live furthest away.
In the second year, the trainee farmers try out what they have learned on their own land. At that point, the teachers closely monitor the students' work, until the final oral examination, which takes place on the young farmers' land.
The example of second-year student Alphonse Avoce
Alphonse is from a very poor family of farmers from the Allada Region. Aged 25, he has two children and wants to be a farmer like his father. His father has given him land so that he can take the course. On his two-hectare plot, which is located 15 minutes’ walk from his village, Alphonse puts into practice what he learnt at the institute. He is particularly proud of his compost.
The support of Le CŒUR de VIVESCIA
We began to support the institute in 2020. We wanted to do that in two ways:
- Firstly, through a financial contribution in the form of sponsoring of a class of students and by financing equipment for the crop processing workshop.
- Secondly, by sharing our agronomic skills and our expertise in the cooperative model.
This second type of support takes the form of an annual visit, where farmers and employees of our Group volunteer to come and share their knowledge and skills. The first trip took place in January 2020 (see interview with Orphée Maillard).
In his very clay-heavy soil, he grows manioc, maize, some tomatoes, pineapple, and sweet potato. All his crops are organic, except for the pineapple, which there is no organic market for.
Interview with Orphée Maillard, who visited the institute in January 2020
Communication manager at Kalizea (European maize processing specialist, and a company of Vivescia group), Orphée Maillard volunteered to visit Govié in January 2020. It was a very memorable experience.
How did your trip go?
We immediately went to meet some second-year students in their village. That's where we met Alphonse, who showed us his field. We had soil conservation farming (SCF) expert Michel Denis with us to provide his advice on the subject. He organised a day with 17 students to cover the basics of SCF, which are in fact quite similar to the agro-ecological practices taught at the Govié Institute. Meanwhile, I organised a half-day workshop on the cooperative model and the advantages of working as a group.
How do you look back on this first experience in Benin?
I was astounded by these young farmers' will to succeed. They work miracles with very limited resources! It's great news that Le CŒUR de Vivescia can support them and give them access to training on high-quality, environmentally friendly farming methods.
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