"This project, it's my story"

Issa M’bengue is the president of APROVAG, the Senegalese banana producers' cooperative supported by the Collibri Foundation. Last June, he travelled to Belgium with a delegation comprising members of the cooperative in order to visit the facilities of the Colruyt Group and to meet members of the Collibri Foundation and Vredeseilanden.

Issa M’bengue doesn't speak very much, but what he says is profound. And when you take the time to discuss matters with him, you soon realise that he contributes so much as president of APROVAG. "This project, it's basically my story", he summarises at the beginning. "My father was a banana grower, and I had to stop school to take over his plot. I wasn't able to complete my studies."  

"Mr. President" as he is affectionately nicknamed by his colleagues, knows better than anyone how much support is needed for young people within the framework of this project initiated by Vredeseilanden and supported by the Collibri Foundation. "Young people need an education. APROVAG is already financing school workshops in six villages but this is not enough. We need a school in Tambacounda, to prevent young people leaving to work in Dakar."

Education = happiness

Growing bananas isn't an easy task. "The weather causes us no end of problems. But thanks to Vredeilanden and the Collibri Foundation, we are learning effective techniques to cope with this. If young people are well educated, they will also be happier in their work."

Even if the road ahead is long, Issa is still optimistic for the future. "I am very confident. Thanks to this project, we will get a place on the market. And that will perhaps lead to investments in the agriculture sector", he concludes hopefully.

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