After nine months of project it is worth asking: have all our efforts served?

To answer this question, we started to test the ground, to go out on the pitch and ask people what they actually think.

The AICS of Dakar, funder of the project and coordinator of the Emergency program, carried out a monitoring visit in July and also a delegation from the European Union and other NGOs became interested in the project by carrying out missions in the Gabù region. Did all this enthusiasm and curiosity also produce a small reversal, a small change in the families and in the young beneficiaries? Were we able to give an example or an alternative to irregular migration in the Gabù-Kolda migratory corridor, regions of intervention of the project?

We started asking our beneficiaries, young fathers and mothers, if they have found real benefits, including economic ones, since the project started. Obviously, with such a small project, we have never thought of being able to upset the economy of the region. Not even a sector. Not even a village. We never thought that. But of course we are committed to ensuring that the resources used in this initiative were really useful to a slice of the beneficiary population.

Are you curious to know some results of the three activities implemented with the project, namely vegetable gardens, chicken coops and cereal processing centers?

Vegetable gardens

Let’s start with the vegetable gardens. Professional deformation.

The gardens (four, in three sectors of the Gabù region) have a size of one hectare, have been fenced and have a well. In two gardens, a cistern was erected to irrigate with a more efficient system of pipes.

At the level of food sovereignty there is no doubt: the rice dressing (locally called mafe) is guaranteed. The main traditional vegetables that we have begun to appreciate (djakatù, bajiki, canja) are never lacking, as well as aubergines, cucumbers, peppers and chillies. This year there will be no shortage of rice (these days they are harvesting and drying it). Rice which will then be transformed in the processing centers built as part of the project.

Ok. There has been an improvement in the diet. But on an economic level?

Let’s do two calculations together: in Pansorr, we have already talked about it, 790 kg of onions were produced in three and a half months, which women sold on average at 450 Fcfa (with peaks of 600 Fcfa). Need to add more?

Let’s go to Djibata, a village on the outskirts of Gabù, where Fatumata now sells chillies, aubergines and canja. As for eggplant, she has already made two harvests. In 5 months of production she has collected, in her flower beds alone, over 230 kg of aubergines (here in Guinea the aubergines do not exceed 400 g), for a total of 57,500 Fcfa. And there are plants still in production! Turning to the canja, we consider for our calculations an average of 30 kg produced. The canja is sold by the piece and in the month of Ramadan a single piece can also cost 150 Fcfa. Since a fruit weighs from 200 to 300 g, and that the dense sown canja does not need any intervention other than irrigation, we deduce that the canja has yielded 22,500 Fcfa. To all this we add small quantities of bajiki, chillies, peppers and sukulubembe (a larger and more colorful chilli, sold per unit).

The beneficial effects of agroecology have borne interesting fruits everywhere. And when we talk about fruits we are talking about papayas and bananas, but also moringa, sown and transplanted in quantity in all gardens (with particular effectiveness in Pitche and Djibata). Wealth is in biodiversity and in the diversification of production. Not just vegetables, then. And not just fruit. Many forest plants, such as neem and moringa, have been planted because they are fundamental in the biological defense of vegetable gardens. In addition, they will improve the protein supply and soil fertility.

Many women sell their produce at the market and exchange products: vegetables for meat or hygiene products. Some women bought some medicine. Others, like Ramatullay, were able to purchase school supplies for their children. A small step for women who this year have tried to be agroecological producers and who tomorrow will be able to continue to produce and improve their economic conditions every day, but above all who will be increasingly protagonists of the economic and productive life of their families and villages.

Ah, and in each garden more or less twenty-five to thirty-five women work. The Pitche garden has been enlarged by another 5,000 square meters, which will allow ten other women from the village to enter the garden.

Community chicken coops

Four community chicken coops were built during the project. Each chicken coop is run by five people, of which normally two are the operators. Chicken coops are set up to produce eggs and chickens for sale. 100 layers generally produce an average of 70-80 eggs per day (30 eggs are sold for 2,500 Fcfa). In short, a nice nest egg that allows young beneficiaries to have a supplementary income.

The situation is different for the production of hens and chickens for meat. Every 60 days (production cycle from one-day chick to 1kg-1.5kg hen), with 15 days of cleaning and disinfestation, at the time of sale of the animals there is a profit ranging from 80,000 to 120,000 Fcfa per 100 hens sold. In short, small economies are growing.

Cereals processing centers (rice and corn)

Four cereal processing centers have been started. Again, five people run the center, while a young man is normally responsible for production. From the end of February to the end of the project, we recorded average earnings of 60,000 FCFA, with peaks of 170,000 FCFA in the month of Ramadan.

Awareness raising

Added to this are successful awareness-raising activities on a subject that was somewhat taboo throughout the region. Youth associations have taken a great deal of interest in the issue of migration, making it their own and organizing film projections and community debates on a logistical level. Even today, three months after the end of the project, some associations, in particular CRJ, use part of the funds of the transformation centers to continue the cycle of screenings in villages adjacent to the community of Gabu.

It was a wonderful experience in a beautiful region.

Many thanks to all those who collaborated in the realization and implementation of the project, from the local coordinator Saico Umaro Embalo, to the animators Aua Balde and Geraldo Suleimane Camara, to the agricultural technicians Adramane Balde, aka Abdul and Braima Cassama, to the trainers who participated by making their knowledge available, to the directors of community radios and radio Nacional, to all suppliers.

Thanks and see you next time!

Follow Matteo’s field work and all the activities of#AiutaliANonFuggire

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