Tuesday, March 11, 2008

CENTRE SONGHAI - Help For The Farmers

While the contents of this post was lifted in its entirety from the web site of Songhai Centere it was taken from different pages in the web site to give the reader a broad scope of the organization's activities in a very short space.

In the early 1980's, a small group of people led by Father Godfrey Nzamujo determined that the level of development in Africa was grossly insufficient and sought to restore dignity to the African people. The result was the creation of the Songhai Center. Named after the famed 15th-century Malian empire,

Songhai is a center for training, for production, research and development of sustainable agricultural practices. The movement seeks to augment the standard of living of Africa's populations using the following methods for the creation of viable agricultural enterprises:

Through the use of local resources, traditional and modern methods;
Through the hybridization of traditional and modern agricultural practices;
Through the instruction and implementation of effective management;
Through the encouragement of individual and communal responsibility and initiatives;
Through the inclusion of diverse opinions.

The ambition of Songhai is to foster an environment of creativity and innovation and as a result, reestablish a stable African society. Songhai draws inspiration from "the Timbuctu effect" - Pride, progress and effective result-, by clearly emphasizing all the advantages Africa offers. Citizens can therefore benefit from globalization rather than be excluded from it or solely bear the weight of its effects.


Funds are collected from the sale of Songhai's own products as well as grants from various partners. Most of Songhai's resources are used to finance production activities while a small portion is allocated to administrative expenses. The ongoing objective is to attain 100% financial independence.
Songhai is an institution which seeks to exist via its own efforts and which finances its programs primarily from revenues generated by its own activities. In addition to the internally generated funds, several partners support many of Songhai's investment projects. They include the following organizations:

USAID (United States Agency for International Development) - principal partner
Songhai Support Group (California)

UNDP , HCR, (United Nations Agencies)

RABOBANK Foundation ( The Netherlands)

Accion Verapaz (Spain)

SID (Society for International Development)

IDRC (International Development Research Centre)

Coopération Française (France)

CCFD (Comité Catholique contre la Faim et pour le Développement - Catholic Commission against Hunger and for Development) (France)

Electriciens du Monde (France),

OXFAM Quebec

Songhai France, bringing together several support associations in France (Solidarité Songhai, Songhai-Chasselay, Collecte pour les jeunes installés -Collection for young farmers -, the Parish of Froissy-St, André...) and the governments of Benin


More than 400 students in training in the centers located in Porto Novo, Savalou, Parakou, and Kinwedji for an 18-month training period.

More than 250 farms established in all the regions and managed by the young people trained in Benin; they are brought together under a Network involving local coordinating units.

More than 300 participants from various countries and from all walks of life take part each year in short-term training programs

More than 150 permanent staff, facilitators, technicians and administrators

More than 4,000 visitors every year.

More than 40 partners from public and private institutions, NGOs, associations, universities, and international institutions like USAID and UNDP.


For agriculture to become a viable force of development, it must be extensive and holistic, going beyond purely agricultural knowledge (integrated production - animal husbandry, fish farming, appropriate technologies) and include education in management, organization, and planning.
In pursuing these goals, Songhai is involved in various activities, highlighting sectors leading up to and resulting from agricultural production.
Its principal activities are completely inter-related. They are as follows:

The objectives of the agricultural production are as follows:

Promote the integrated system of agricultural production (diversification).

Manage the production units with a goal of making them profitable as well as remaining conscious of the environment.

Improve the productivity of production units (training given by Songhai cannot be credible if it is not validated on the field via profitability and research).

Supervise the student farmers and trainees.

Provide agricultural services for the installed farmers and the Songhai centers (ex. production of seeds and materials).


To put the finishing touches on the practice of integration and bring together all the sectors, a biogas production system was established. Methane is produced from animal excrement, plant wastes, and sewage water (from showers and toilets). This is used as a source of energy. Today, the methane from the system feeds the kitchens of the student farmers' canteen and the center's restaurants.

As a method for refining polluted water, the green method of purification
consists of purifying water by planting aquatic plants such as water hyacinth, water lettuce, and a fern called azolla. These plants have the tendency to absorb organic materials, which are suspended in water. After running through a certain number of basins where the plants are cultivated, the water, which is now sufficiently filtered, can be used again for fish farming

Centre Songhai

1 comment:

Nathaniel said...

Dear Oscar

How are you? My name is Nathaniel Whittemore, and I'm the Director of the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. The CGE helps American undergraduates learn from communities around the world, so that they can better add value to community-led development efforts. One of our programs brings 20 students a year to Uganda.

I wanted to pass along a quick request for help. I'm looking for Bloggers to write a brief post about a project of mine in the next day or two. The CGE is currently competing in Netsquared's Mashup Challenge and we're working to be selected as a finalist to receive grant money and technological support and development for a project called Assetmap.org/Uganda

assetmap.org/uganda has the goal of aggregating information about where development projects happen, what they focus on, and who's involved so that all of us concerned with supporting community-led efforts to rebuild northern Ugandan civil society can better share best practices, direct support, and collaborate for greater impact. To read more, click here.

The competition is only going on for the next two days, ending Friday. The way the competition works is that Netsquared users vote for the Top 20 projects. If selected in the top 20, we go to California for the national conference where we make a presentation to a panel of judges and are eligible for technical support and up to $100,000 in grants.

To vote you go here, register and select us (and at least four other projects). You submit your "ballot" with five projects and ta-da! If you'd be willing to take a few minutes to do this - and even more just to write a quick post on your blog about it, I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks and hope you're doing well.