Benin: work in your own region
Young people working in rice cultivation
In 2006, Colruyt Group started a rice project in the Collines region in the West African country of Benin together with, among others, Vredeseilanden and the local cooperative organisation Uniriz-C. It was an initiative that came to an end in 2013.
Collaboration with university of applied sciences
However, revitalising rice cultivation in the Collines region will only have an effect if the subsequent step is to make it sustainable. To this end, Collibri Foundation called for a new training process in 2013. The UC Leuven-Limbug (UCLL) university of applied sciences proved to be the ideal partner. They are integrating the project into their bachelor's specialisation programme Internationale Samenwerking Noord-Zuid. Every year, one or two students do an internship in Benin to develop and follow up on the training project together with the local partners. In total, we are organising three education cycles for a total of 30 young people between 2013 and 2019. These people come from the families of rice cultivators who have joined the cooperative organisation Uniriz-C.
First group: started own business
In the meantime, the first group of 10 youngsters has concluded both the training at the Shongaï Centre and the model farm Ferme SAIN. Successfully, as in the spring of 2016 each one of them started their own business!
We now also work more closely together with Pascal Gbénou of Ferme SAIN, who visited Belgium last year. He is closely involved with the young people and coaches them. He organises regular meetings, visits their new businesses and also offers further education opportunities.
Second group: training nearly finished
The second group of 10 youngsters started early January 2016 with their training at the Songhaï-agriculture school. Our trainee Marthe, then a student bachelor-after-bachelor International Cooperation North-South at UCLL, did the follow-up on them and reported it on her blog.
In November 2016 the young people then started their internship at the model farm/agriculture school Ferme SAIN. For a period of 3 months they had the opportunity to put the culture methods they were taught at Shongaï to practice. Our ambassador Jan met with them during his immersion trip: read his story here and watch his video.
Our new trainee Thibault, who is studying for a bachelor-after-bachelor International Cooperation North-South at UCLL, will follow them closely in the next few months and coach them.
Third group: training started
During Jan’s immersion trip, the third and last group of young people also started the training cycle. We received 33 application letters and selected 10 extremely motivated candidates. How are they faring? For this we count on our trainee Thibault. He will monitor this group of young people in the coming months and keep us informed on a regular basis.