Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Zoe writes: Songhaï agricultural farm

UNNATURAL or WASTING. These are no-nos at Songhaï agricultural centre.
In Canada, we have a lot of dumps. In Benin, there are lots of piles of garbage on the road (I'm not saying that's not the case in Canada).

But at Songhaï, nothing is wasted or unnatural. Songhaï is a farming project in Porto Novo, the capital city of Benin. We visited it yesterday.

Songhaï was started in 1985 by a man from Nigeria who wanted to farm in a way that was environmentally friendly. This is a picture of the man's home and office, and where this whole thing started.

Leftovers and compost are used to make biogas. Even all of the plastic is recycled and made into new plastic containers.

They use the animal's manure to fertilize the plants. Some animals that are there include quails, chickens, pigs, turkeys, and snails. They grow snails to eat and they grow in the snailery. The snailery is like a big jungle and they have to keep it cool with shady plants because snails don't like hot places. The snails are inside a netted area with a roof of hay.

They make their own palm oil from palm nuts and they use the leftovers from this process to put in plastic bags in a dark room. Can you guess what grows from this?

They also have ponds with lots of fish.

Here are some of the connections that I learned about.

The sun helps the soy plants, banana plants, palm trees, and corn to grow. It's the beginning of everything. If we didn't have the sun, none of the rest would be possible.

From the banana trees, the leaves are food for snails. Then the snail's manure helps the banana trees to grow.

They produce soy oil, and the byproduct is soy cakes that the pigs eat. The pigs and some other animals help fertilize the plants with their manure. They butcher the animals to sell the meat. They put the leftovers from the slaughtering room in the maggotery, which is the place where maggots grow. Maggots are fed to the fish - they really like them.

The corn is food for the turkeys and the chickens. Those birds help with the fertilizing of the plants and producing maggots, which helps the fish.

The palm trees have palm nuts that are made into palm oil. The byproduct from this is used to grow mushrooms.

palm nuts

The place where they hatch the fish looks like Ganvier, a village that we went to today. I'll say more about that in another post.

À toute à l'heure,


  1. Oh, my, goodness. That is incredible!! How did they ever plan such a complicated system?! That is so cool!

  2. Wow! Schedules, Organization, Organic Systems - you are learning so much! And it seems to me that you have grown a foot - well, maybe not quite that much, but in one photo at first glance I thought you were your mom.

    Looking forward to hearing more stories when you come home in a few days.

    Grandma J

  3. Zoe,
    That's quite the centre that you visited. It was interesting learning about how the animals and plants helped to feed and nourish one another. My guess is that mushrooms are the result of the palm oil/nut process - Uncle Brandon would be very excited about this!
    Aunt Bethany

  4. Hello Zoe!
    Wow! What an amazing system! I love how everything is interconnected. It is obvious that a lot of thought and planning went into Songhaï farming project. This would be a wonderful thing to share with your class next year. I could imagine this making a great book too! You and Eden could write photo books of your experiences to share with others here in Canada. Thanks for sharing this experience, Zoe :)
    :) Shauna

  5. What an amazing experience. I was in the grade 2 class the other day and just had to share this information. They are studying animals and how their adaptation, extinction and what we can do to help improve situations around us. The children were very interested in your experience. Hang on to all you've learned - you will find it extremely helpful in school - maybe even a science fair project?