Youssouf Mmadi was born in Djoumoichongo, a village 10 kilometres north of the Comoran capital, Moroni. The 33-year-old father of one grew up in a farming family, accompanying his parents to their plot to help plant fruit and do other work.
His family grew food for their own table, planning only as far as the next harvest. Being young, Mr. Mmadi was not involved in decision making. But by the age of 21, he knew that his family’s life could change for the better through farming.
In 2002, the young man’s father died and he became the head of the family. Things began to change on the farm. He continued to grow the same fruits − oranges, avocados and lemons − but at an increased volume. He explains, “I decided to produce for the market.”
Mr. Mmadi signed contracts with grocers in the capital to supply them with fruit that met quality standards for juice production.
His first payment was 30,000 Comoran francs [$83 US]. He realized quickly that fruit farming could provide for himself and his family. With a big smile, Mr. Mmadi says, “I started with 12 clients. I sold each one a bag of fruit every five days for 2,500 francs [$6.90 US]. Now I deal with more than 30 customers.”
Mr. Mmadi has established a relationship of trust with his customers. He explains: “Either I am paid on delivery or I can return to my clients a few days later. Sometimes I will exchange my fruit for other goods instead of taking the cash home to my family.”
Ali Papa is one of Mr. Mmadi’s clients. He says: “I spend less than before, now that I do not buy my fruit from the market. I no longer have to pay for a taxi, the fruit costs less, and also I save time.”
Said Hassane has similar feelings. He says: “What is interesting about this contract is its reliability. I have also found that Mr. Mmadi emphasizes the human side of our relationship. I can take delivery and give him the money later – this allows me to budget better.”
With the money from his sales, Mr. Mmadi can support himself and has gradually improved his life. He says, “Through this business, I have built a house and opened a grocery store for my family, and I also help my widowed mother.”
Because transportation can be a daily headache, he is planning to buy a delivery van. He also intends to expand the business by signing supply contracts with major hotels in the area.
The young man is proud to do this kind of work, and invites other young people to embrace agriculture as a business. He says, “Agriculture is a profession like any other. It is profitable and you live an honourable life.”