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Songhaï, the organic agricultural farm in Benin that reuses all its waste.

© Marie Fontaine -

The Songhaï center is located in the heart of Porto Novo, the capital of Benin, and takes its name from an empire that stretched from Senegal to the Niger loop from the 15th to the 16th century.

It is a self-sustaining agroecological farm that has become a reference and was designated a "center of excellence for agriculture" by the UN in 2008.

Agroecology is a way of designing production systems that rely on the functionalities offered by ecosystems.

Created in 1980 by Father Godfrey Nzamujo, an American of Nigerian origin, the center now covers 24 hectares, operates in total autonomy and employs several hundred people.

The Songhaï farm
The Songhaï farm

Here nothing is lost, everything is transformed: the dejecta from fish farming, cattle or poultry breeding activities are recovered and transformed into gas or fertilizer for crops.

The biogas produced by the Songhaï farm is then used for the center and also for the energy needs of the surrounding villages.

Godfrey Nzamujo also recycles all the metal from his farm in his own foundry, to produce spare parts for his machines.

In contrast to extensive farming, Songhai favors small plots and constant rotation of plantations. Crop maintenance is mostly done by hand.

In the 1990s, five farms were set up in Benin and from the 2000s onwards, ten or so were created in Nigeria, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

This farm model being very profitable, Godfrey Nzamujo decided to industrialize it.

Already producing fruit, he started making juice. For this, he equipped himself with a bottling line with an hourly capacity of 1000 bottles.

The center has its own plastic recycling plant and thus manufactures the bottles and caps on site from the farm's plastic waste.

The farm processing areas allow the production and marketing of fruit juices, pastries, rice, palm oil and soap.

There are also artemisia plants whose tea fights malaria, yam tubers that weigh up to 15 kilos and fish weighing from 10 to 14 kilos!

Sale of the products of the Songhaï farm.
Sale of the products of the Songhaï farm.

To promote his model to the public, he organizes open door days: Songhaï receives more than 20,000 visitors each year!

Godfrey Nzamujo is keen to pass on his knowledge and has therefore opened the "Songhai Leadership Academy" with the aim of training thousands of young agricultural entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Young agricultural entrepreneurs in training at the Songhaï farm.
Young agricultural entrepreneurs in training at the Songhaï farm.

The Songhai farms offer a model of autonomous and profitable development, thanks to an intelligent use of resources.

In 2023, the Songhai center will operate autonomously, thanks to renewable energy. Several buildings on the site are already covered with solar panels.

Building covered with solar panels.
Building covered with solar panels.

Its creator plans to establish itself in a dozen other countries on the African continent.


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