Why is Africa so rich, but is inhabited by the planet’s poorest people? Some governments have gone as far as leasing land to agro-businesses for large scale agriculture as a possible solution to food insecurity. This has led to disempowerment of small farm holders and the displacement of communities from their ancestral lands. Also, efforts are underway to genetically modify indigenous seeds, a process which will eventually eliminate local species currently owned by not one, but the whole community. This economic approach is not the answer to Africa’s food insecurity, but instead it is a sure pathway to creating economic dependency and a form of agro-colonialism.
However, Songhai Center Located in Porto-Novo in the Republic of Benin provides an alternative model of agricultural development for a new African Society. At Songhai Center, they have transformed a land which previously did not produce in a multilayer and integrated production system. The integrated system is based in this principal: Zero Emission Research Initiative (ZERI). This means that nothing is wasted. Waste from one part of the operation is used to enhance another part of production. For example, crop waste is used to feed animals and animal waste is used in the fish production. Most importantly, in this integrated system, the environment is respected because no chemicals are used. The soil balance is done through the natural process.
Songhai Center’s mission is to fight underdevelopment by raising the standards of living for Africa’s poor. It provides proven necessary skills needed to succeed and prosper. As an international not for profit organization, it is “a new cream of individuals who have the knowledge, the skill and value system… capable of doing new science” said its founder Fr. Godfrez Nzamuja, a Dominican Priest. It has satellites in Benin and across Africa.
The center trains people from many parts of Africa and it has been recognized by the United Nations as a new model of development. The Songhai Center develops technical and entrepreneurial capabilities for local communities in the area of production and research in agro- biology. It also “provides effective and functional programs within the framework of sustainability in the production of goods and services socially and economically relevant to the community.” Lastly, Songhai Center produces all kinds of grain, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish for local markets. Some of the products are processed for better conservation and to add value to the products. There is always demand for its products.