admin | January 16, 2017
Soulemayne Abdou-Bahar knows that vegetables should be healthy for his family. But after moving to Benin, he visited local farmers to see how they work. He was astonished to discover that how they grew vegetables could make his family sick.
He says, “I saw they were using pesticides intended for cotton on cabbage and salad [leafy, green vegetables]. And these are very dangerous products when they are not used properly.”
Pesticides can be harmful to farmers, consumers, and the environment, especially when not used as recommended.
Mr. Abdou-Bahar is the founder of The Gardens of Hope, an organization that practices and promotes organic farming, using organic fertilizers and natural methods of pest control.
The organization was founded by Mr. Abdou-Bahar and five young people he met in a market. The youths had a piece of land and an interest in agriculture, but no experience. Mr. Abdou-Bahar provided the experience—and new ideas on how to be a successful farmer with organic practices.
Tanguy Gnikobou is the vice-president of The Gardens of Hope. He explains, “We produce crops without chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We use plants and other natural products [to add soil nutrients and control pests and diseases].We recycle waste to make gold from it.” Within two years, their productivity has exceeded expectations.
One technique they use is intercropping two vegetables. By planting carrots and onions together, they lose fewer plants to pests. Oluwatèmi Kochoni explains: “There is a fly that attacks the carrot and this fly does not like the smell of onions. And the fly that attacks onion does not like the smell of carrot. So when you have carrots next to onions, they protect each other. When pests are in nature, it is not sight that guides them, it’s the smell.”
Many organic practices and products are not just healthier for consumers and the soil, but cost less than synthetic inputs. Farmers can save money by using animal manure or composted manure, made from plant waste. However, many organic practices are more labour-intensive.
In Burkina Faso, Claude Arsène Savadogo is making organic fertilizers and pesticides available to farmers. His company, Bioprotect develops and produces fertilizers and pesticides, using fungi, neem, chili, garlic, and other ingredients.
Pascaline Marmoussa is a vegetable producer who has been field testing Bioprotect products. She says organic fertilizer has improved her harvest. She says, “We have noticed that the plot treated with chemical fertilizers has yielded less than the plot treated with biological fertilizers.”
The young farmers in The Gardens of Hope are sharing their knowledge of organic farming techniques with farmers in Benin, Togo, and Cote d’Ivoire.
Mr. Kochoni adds: “With climate change, we cannot continue using the practices that have been here for a while. We have to change this paradigm. Going back to the land is good, but we have to do it in a dynamic that preserves the environment, [and] that preserves nature, to ensure survival.”
This story is based on a video from AgribusinessTV called “Benin: The gardens of hope.” To watch the video, go to: http://en.agribusinesstv.info/Benin-The-gardens-of-hope_v99.html And to learn more about Bioprotect, see the AgribusinessTV video “Burkina Faso: Organic from father to son,” available here: http://en.agribusinesstv.info/Burkina-Faso-Organic-from-father-to-son_v59.html
Photo credit: Les Jardins de l’Espoir