“While I was away for work in West Africa, I realized that Divatec could bring its expertise to the country, especially regarding water management,” explains Jean-Michel Mahé, co-founder and co-director of Divatec. "This could help local growers and the development of the industry here."
And so was born Veglnnov, supported by the expertise of the French company Divatec. “Launched in June 2018, the project is currently being implemented near Ouidah, in southern Benin. It will cover an area of 30 hectares. The goal is to build a facility ‘in the same style as in Nantes’, with a germination chamber that will help increase our productivity. There will also be a 1,000 m² greenhouse nursery where we will grow tomato plants, lettuce, cabbage… In Benin, everything is still done by hand. The mechanization of agriculture on a modern farm will have a positive impact on productivity. We wish to bring concrete solutions and then establish agronomic monitoring in order to accomplish a transfer of skills.”
The entrance to the farm with Hugo, export sales representative who has been managing the project from the start
A societal project
After presenting the project in August 2018 to the local population and the government, and after receiving the blessing of the elders, Jean-Michel and his team started rehabilitating a fallow land. “In no way did we want our project to be responsible for any deforestation. That’s why we chose to set it up on rented fallow agricultural land, originally destined to be burned or planted with palm trees to produce palm oil. As for the way we cultivate the land, we are going to run the farm by using agroecological techniques, aiming to do even better than what is practiced in organic farming.”
The goal of this project, currently tested on five farms, is to complete the offer from local small producers of fresh produce such as lettuce, carrots, cabbage, beans, melons, watermelons and onions. “Benin imports a lot of vegetables from neighboring countries. With this modern farm, we hope to complete the supply from small producers but we don’t want to replace it. This project will create about 100 jobs and is part of a short circuit model. We will launch a dozen fruits and vegetables to test the market,” explains Jean-Michel.
The farm will be able to start producing within two or three months. The objective is to duplicate the model currently being tested on five other farms. Veglnnov is therefore looking for private and government investors.
The first employees of the farm
Divatec is a company specialized in equipment for vegetable growing and horticulture. It brings solutions in water management regarding pumping, filtration, irrigation and treatment, as well as solutions related to electricity, climate management or even fertilization. Although the company located in the Loire Valley mainly operates in France, it has been developing abroad in recent years.
The entire team with a delegation from the Loire Valley (including the elected Mrs Guerriau)