Farmers of the future

The Collibri project ‘Riz du Benin, Riz de demain’ focuses on training Beninese youngsters to become young farmers and entrepreneurs in their own region. A story and photo-reportage on our Collibri youngsters in Benin, West-Africa.

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The Beninese farming population is ageing year after year and is urgently looking for a future to till the available land. To counter the escape from the countryside and the known ageing, a few years ago, the Collibri Foundation started a project to train young people to become trained farmers. Furthermore, young people are called in as model entrepreneurs and encourage other youngsters to commit to the agricultural sector by means of knowledge-sharing within cooperatives and their local community.

Sylvie committed herself in a women's group that processes paddy rice into a high-quality finished product. With the Collibri project, Sylvie wants to learn how to produce this primary product before the transformation process takes place. In the agricultural college, she is also immersed in the different agricultural domains such as stock breeding, fruit and vegetable growing. By means of these techniques learned, she can make up her rice production during the dry season with the production of other fruit and vegetables.

Sylvain already completed his agricultural training and started a small business in Savalou together with his family. The Yadedo family used to own a few hectares of partially tilled land, on which Sylvain now applies the techniques he learned. Climate change causes a huge water shortage in the region and so Sylvain started growing tomatoes, peppers and palm trees for now. This young entrepreneur hopes to be able to focus on the development of rice production, the transformation of fruit into fruit juices, and so on.

The other 18 classmates of Sylvie and Sylvain have the same capacities, theoretical background and motivation they all try to use in their own creative way. Over the years, they will hopefully encourage many other Beninese adolescents to join the agricultural sector. Despite the constraints imposed on farmers by the climate today, these youngsters see huge perspectives. And don't forget: la jeunesse d’aujourd’hui est l’avenir de demain.

Photographs by Eva Verbeeck ; Article by Marthe Lemmens

Hand in rijstveld
Varkens
Papaya
Salomon
Hospice
Mangos
Songhaï shirt
Bouillie
Hervé
Soy
Moto
Farmland
Tomato plants
Jocélyn
Rice
Sylvain
Chickens
Dénise
Rice and corn

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Collibri Foundation

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