Project title: Ferme Ecole “La Reine”
Location: 5 ha, near Zalivé, Prefecture des Grands Lacs, 10 km from Aného, 60 km from Lomé
Project Partner: Paul Sossa
BP 384, Lomé, Togo
Tel + fax: + 228 222 9 139
Cell phone: + 228 938 48 62
The decision to suspend early 2009 the cooperation with partner Paul Sossa was painful, but inevitable. Paul was not able to make the farm financially self reliant. In spite of all necessary investments, sponsored by Mesics and its donors, the farm was not able to produce profitably.
Unfortunately, the first two phases of the school facility on the farm had already been funded with 20.000 euro, and building commended. The total budget of the school was € 70.000.
Three smaller projects will continue into 2010:
- The carpentry shop “Menuiserie Kolping” in Lomé.
- School fees for a Masters degree in Agronomy of Nicolas Aziafo.
- Bread oven for the orphanage of Sister Victorine in Aného.
In his desire to start promoting tilapia culture in his native region of the Préfecture des Grands Lacs, Paul Sossa approached Fr. Jan Heine and Mesics, around the end of 1997. Sossa was quite successful in introducing small scale tilapia culture at family- and village level.
In 2001 Mesics decided to extend the cooperation with Sossa by agreeing to co-invest in a farm, Ferme Ecole “La Reine”, named after his late wife Reine. This decision was made by Mesics primarily because of a high level of trust and the competence and intention that Sossa has shown after 4 years of intensive cooperation.
The purpose of the farm is to be a regional centre of production, training and inspiration. Special focus is put on the introduction of local plants and techniques to regenerate the soils which are degraded by excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides.
It is hoped that this good example will receive ample follow-up in the region.
Financial self-reliance is an important criterion. Self-reliance is defined in such a way that the running costs are to be covered by the proceeds from daily operation. Financing of major additional investments can be sourced from outside. Income generating is realized through poultry, pigs and market garden, especially tomatoes.
Products: approx 2 ha market garden, 1000 poultry, 20 pigs, and approx 2 ha under regeneration by local plants and techniques: the soils should be ready for cultivation of maize by 2007.
Labour: 4 permanent staff, varying members of part-timers
Investments by Mesics: land, buildings, pick-up truck, 2 pumps, generator, bore-hole, water reservoir, tilapia ponds;
working capital: total approx € 50.000,-
Local contribution: management, labour, various inputs in cash and kind, difficult to quantify
Ownership: land and assets are owned by Paul Sossa
Familiarizing the region with small scale tilapia culture has been quite successful, although one cannot conclude that the concept is proliferating spontaneously. See also explanations in the Introduction.
Various young assistants/employees have been trained and consequently helped to set up their own business. Neighbouring farmers of “La Reine” are anxiously awaiting the results of the farm’s experiments in regenerating the soils with local plants and techniques. If successful, the staff of “La Reine” is ready to help neighbours to copy the example. Around 2008 conclusions are expected to be drawn.
Sossa is engaged in organizing a union of local tomato-growers, so as to better organize marketing and distribution.
Much positive interaction was expected from the cooperation with a local NGO active in the production and marketing of traditional drugs and medicines. Unfortunately, however, this cooperation has developed negatively, causing serious set-backs for “La Reine”.
Sossa is also head of the Kolping Family in Togo. Kolping is a Germany based Catholic charity society. Mesics has actively supported some actions from Kolping Togo: a carpenter shop in Lomé and a milk shop in Aného.
Achieving the level of financial self-reliance is for every activity an ambitious goal. The fact that Ferme Ecole “La Reine” so far has still not reached that level is both understandable and disappointing. Organizational set-backs and the threat of the bird-flue in 2005/2006 can be blamed.