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An Organic Green & Protein Revolution to Preserve our Ecosystems and Guarantee Well-Being for Next Generations.

Better manage and preserve natural resources by developing a new holistic hydroponic model, able to challenge human food problems and needs

Photo of OKE Olawolé
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

IDAC - Institute for Development and Consulting Assistance

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Researcher Institution

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Grandeur Africa (Small Comapny / KENYA) Department of Animal Science / Faculty of Agronomy Science / University of Abomey Calavi (Benin)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 3-10 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?


Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The following departments of the south, connected together 1. Atlantique 2. Oueme 3. Plateau 4. Littoral 5. Zou 6. Collines

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

We chose this geographic area for several reasons.

1. The highest population densities of the whole country are encountered there.

2. These departments have borders with Nigeria and serve as transport corridors for agricultural food products to Nigeria which will become by 2050 the 3rd most populous country in the world.

3. Natural resources are overexploited in the region and the proximity of Nigeria (a major outlet for Benin's agricultural products) increases the pressure on ecosystems and resources

4. The region is subject to the phenomenon of transhumand cattle which is the source of violent conflicts with deaths every year. This led to a law in 2018-2019 on the prohibition of transhumance without innovative solutions like we bring in our holistic approach.

5. The region is the most fragmented in the country with agricultural land, generally less than 1 ha. Urbanization is extremely advanced there, creating all king of poverty and vulnerability, especially against women and young people.

6. Young people and women, however, have great potential for entrepreneurship and are looking for innovative solutions to develop to improve the present and the future. It is an asset on which it seemed essential to develop our concept. Capacity of beneficiaries for adoption and appropriation.

These reasons prompted us to choose this geographical area, which presents a cocktail of challenges to be met in order to prepare for the future a better food system.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Located in the south of Benin, the intervention region has access to the Atlantic Ocean. French is the official language, but half of the 79 local languages identified throughout the country are spoken in the region of intervention. The majority ethnic groups are the Fons, Yoruba, Adja, Mina, Nago, Savè and Idatcha.

The people who live there have a very rich culture. He was descended from Amazon women, an elite army of women, before the colonization which conquered land even in present-day Nigeria. Another part of this people came hundreds of years ago from neighboring Nigeria and from Tado to Togo. It is known worldwide as the land of Voodoo in Africa.

The climate is generally sub tropical with an alternating rainy and dry season, with high humidity of 80% at the edge of the ocean, against 45% approximately in the Hills.

Agricultural, livestock, and fishing activities occupy more than 60% of this population. The human poverty index reached 53% in the municipality of Zakpota (RGPH4, 2013).

The region of intervention provides for the whole country more than 90% of fishery products, at least 80% of modern poultry farming. The breeding of large cattle is not dominant there, but the region suffers from the influx of livestock transhumance which destroys the crops, and overgrazing of pastures which destroys the soil.

It is the most urbanized region in the whole country with the largest cities. However, the area remains highly dependent on Agriculture, even in cities where peri-urban agriculture has developed strongly to meet growing food needs.

The region produces all of the country's pineapple, and is the first in all of West Africa. Food crops, fruits and vegetables, processed agricultural products (gari, cassava and yam chips), animal proteins also go largely to neighboring Nigeria and Niger.

Local communities retain the hope of well-being and the possibility of a brighter future for future generations. The majority live today on less than 1/2 dollar a day, with 01 meal out of 03. To improve both the daily life and the agricultural yields, the practice is with the wild use of pesticides and inputs of all kinds, without compliance with legal requirements. It is also the practice of shifting farming. This in the hope of increasing harvests and selling the surplus in neighboring countries and generating more income

Food is currently deficient in proteins (milk, meat, eggs, fish), fruits and vegetables. All food products and especially fruits and vegetables are saturated with pesticides and chemicals. This results in a resurgence of metabolic diseases, allergies and cancers. Food has become a slow poison, in a context where more than 90% of the population does not have access to social and health coverage.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

1. The environment is today degraded.

(i) Continental waters are highly polluted, by the prohibited practice of "Acadja" (sedimentation and eutrophication), household waste, which is dumped there. Toxins, heavy metals, are found throughout the aquatic food chain and in water.

(ii) The soils are degraded, polluted, impoverished by poor agricultural practices, the massive and uncontrolled use of chemicals. Deforestation for new agricultural land and firewood, the transhumance of large livestock on inappropriate routes also contributes.

(iii) The air has become unhealthy, due to a concentration of arnachians in large urban centers, because the countryside no longer presents enough economic opportunities.

2. The population suffers from a protein deficiency, which is common south of the Sahara. The diet is poor, in grains, fruits and vegetables. Its energy value is at least 20% lower than normal. Women and children are the most affected.

In addition to being deficient, food has become a source of intoxication and metabolic diseases.

3. The economy is dynamic in the region and the engine of almost the whole country. The seaport is losing steam and more efforts are expected from agriculture to support the economy.

The challenge is based on a new generation of agricultural entrepreneurs (literate, young, ambitious) who must, with NO financial support, with little land, find new agricultural models that are effective to support the economy and change the situation.

4. This economic and social landscape is weakened by a cultural diversity which is opposed to survive.

(i) Breeders in conflict with farmers,

(ii) Farmers are attached to the ancestral culture of slash and burn agriculture, unfit for the challenges of the present and future.

(iii) Women in rural areas generally do not inherit anything from their father, especially the land. How can it survive without land, without education, if a successful model is not within its reach?

5. The challenge today is to promote:

(i) inexpensive technical processes, based on available local resources and low-cost energy such as solar, for the rational use of resources (water, preserving or cooking food) instead of fire wood;

(ii) or be able to produce healthily, with high yield in a limited space.

The technology must be within the economic reach of the actors, but also simple to be appropriate.

6. It should be possible to apply certain policies which have just been adopted, such as the law on transhumance. But it does not foresee any real solution. The real challenge lies in lobbying and promoting local policies, which preserve the environment, impose more responsible farming practices, set health standards on food, so that they do not become slow poisons.

Laws without solutions are sterile policies and our approach is a contribution to face the challenges of tomorrow.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our approach is holistic, based on a system integrating all the agricultural components: animal husbandry, fishing, plant production, agrifood processing.

It is based on a diversification of hydroponics.

(i) The cultivation of fruits and vegetables, without the need for a large area of land, allows water management (savings of 60%), the absence of chemical inputs, and yields compared to local realities up to 15 times more depending on the crop. This in all seasons.

(ii) The production of fodder is a revolution implemented. A 15 m² space with 3 m in height can produce 250 kg of fodder per day, more than 300 times the biomass production of conventional forage plots. This production can serve both the production of milk and meat (poultry and ruminants).

(iii) Our system integrates aquaculture production (aquaponics) below hydroponic crops.

Producing is useless if the actors are not involved. Our model is based on starting a small market economy. Production quotas will be provided to young people for the various productions mentioned as well as for the production of cassava-based bread flour; wheat representing 50 million euros of foreign exchange which goes abroad each year, to a country where the basic salary is less than 100 dollars / month.

The residues from the production of flour, will be used to feed the animals and as substrates for the production of mushrooms.

Our model incorporates hyperproduction, fruit, vegetables, milk, meat, mushrooms, as well as bread flour; by organized local communities.

This in the preservation of natural resources, their rational use, without polluting in nature and by recycling waste.

The fragile layers: young people and women without access to land are the first beneficiaries of this technology

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

It is important to reorganize the use of our resources. that's where our innovation lies. By 2050, our area of intervention will be specialized in sub-sectors.
Each sub-sector, depending on the type of climate, soil and vegetation, will be responsible within cooperative societies managed by local beneficiaries for the production for the whole country of one or two crops (fruit, vegetables, meat, milk , bread flour, etc.).
These cooperative societies will have production quotas which take into account internal and external demand.
Basically, the production of polluted fruit and vegetables will have disappeared completely, the deficiency in dairy products, improved by at least 80% and the import of meat reduced to less than 20%.

Some 15,000 farmers will be involved in this green and protein revolution. It will affect more than 18 million local consumers in 2050 and some 03 million outside our borders.

The quality of life will have been improved by a healthier diet and the income of the actors involved will provide social security estimated at more than 500,000 farmers.

From a political point of view, the lobbying that has been initiated may allow the government to impose limits on imports of locally produced foodstuffs and new legislation on chemical inputs.

In 2050 it will not be the Garden of Eden, but it will be a place where the health of the consumer is at the center of fundamental questions, with the right to healthy food, the possibility of producing and having access to a market.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Realizing our vision will not solve all the problems. But we will set in motion a change which will undoubtedly be significant.

1. Our area of intervention will be subdivided, as we said, into sub-sectors, each having one or two specific productions in charge depending on all of the characteristics of each ecosystem, even if we are in hydroponic technology. The littoral and Ouémé department will excel in fruit and vegetable production, while the Atlantic department will excel in poultry production. The department of Zou et des Collines, in ruminant farming. The potential of each department will be enhanced through cooperative societies collaborating with each other, throughout the region. Not in a spirit of competition, but of complementarity.
Specificity is managed within a body which directs all cooperative societies as a single whole. This specificity will allow better control over the environmental impact and corrective measures if necessary will be concentrated and not dispersed.

Water, a precious resource, is at the heart of our technology. Its management (recycling) which saves at least 60%, will make the system sustainable.
Aggression and chemical pollutants towards the soil will decrease by at least 50%, since there will always be cash crops and certain food crops that will use chemical inputs in high doses. But we estimate at 50%, the reduction of the negative impact on the environment in 2050 compared to 2020. This for us would be a victory, since the tendency to destroy the environment is rather increasing.
In general, the soil will be better preserved and only urbanization will continue to destroy the green spaces.
Transhumance will be almost stopped, because the availability of fodder is guaranteed, but the hydroponic fodder system improves the incomes of ruminant breeders and by 20 to 40% depending on the actors' appropriation capacity.
It is continental waters that will experience a more uncertain situation. Hydroponic aquaculture production will not compete with inland fishing. The influence will come from the quality of the products. The search for very good quality fishery products can encourage the multiplication of aquaculture farms. in this scenario, continental waters will experience a rest and may tend towards progressive regeneration; if the efforts made by the authorities at present are also continued.

2. Food will be greatly improved by factors: quality, availability and quantity.
Quality is the major asset of the hydroponic system. Availability in any season correlated by the question which can be produced according to needs. Breakdown periods will only be a bad memory.
The total population of Benin will be around 23 million inhabitants and directly 13 to 14 million in the intervention area. 18 million people will have access to products from the model we are developing and 15,000 producers, farmers, processors involved. This will ensure healthier nutrition for children, women, the elderly and the immune system.
This tehnology we hope is disruptive in order to completely change food habits and healthier production.

3. Culture does not change fundamentally; but it lets itself be shaped over time. We will give the opportunity to young people, women, people who do not have great financial power, to be able to come together, work and produce wealth.
Women who do not inherit will be able to hold wealth and take better care of themselves.
The cultivation of slash-and-burn agriculture will be clearly reduced and the conflicts between pastoralists and farmers will be stopped.
From a highly individualistic culture when it comes to the production of wealth, we will develop a culture of united entrepreneurs, without which the challenges we face will be difficult to overcome.

4. These are the foundations of a disruptive economy that we will create today. An economy that creates jobs and wealth, which gives young people the opportunity to be a foundation for economic development.
Our study in 2017, on behalf of the National Agency for the Promotion of Medium and Small Enterprises on behalf of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts showed that poultry farming alone could generate 75,000 jobs out of 5 years.
Our model with its holistic approach aims to create an economic fabric, since several sectors are involved.
In 2050, there will be a dozen new trades that will have emerged, in all agricultural sectors (manufacture of new tools and materials, hydroponics experts, producers of organic inputs for animals, mutuals, credit union agricultural, etc.).
The private mutuals and agricultural credit unions that will emerge will be able to create co-conditions for lasting well-being: a retirement plan for rural stakeholders, social and health coverage, easier access to credit, because these actors, now marginalized, will be the pillars of the agricultural economy.

It will also be an elite which could throughout the sub-region give its expertise on this technology and this holistic concept which is implemented with our Kenyan partners.

5. From a technological point of view, we envisage actors from the rural world, more able to face the challenges that will present themselves to them. Perfect mastery of the various hydroponic and aquaponics systems, a mastery of alternative energies such as solar energy; in order to better meet the demands of the environment.

6. The awareness by the actors themselves of the changes they will have made in the last two decades before 2050 will allow a revolution in agricultural policies.
Stricter regulation in the use of chemical inputs.
Regulation in food quality standards to ban food products with high traces of pesticides
The participation of local actors in the development of agricultural policies, which for the moment are under the aegis of the bureaucrats.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

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Join the conversation:

Photo of Zsofia Pasztor

Love your vision. We have friends in Kenya who are very interested in this conversation. We use aquaponic systems in the USA and have been discussing growing with these systems in Kenya as well. I would love to connect.

Photo of OKE Olawolé

Hi dear, you are write. To develop our concept we are working with a partner in Kenya as explain in the project. Kenya has a long experience in hydroponics, and we think that our collaboration be a great benefit:
1. learn from their experience
2. capitalize 20 years of experience and use these results to perform our model.

Hydroponics, aquaponics can be interesting in many areas (livestock, garden markets etc.).
For example, In West Africa the production of fodder plants in a conventional system is more than 300 times to 400 times lower than a production of fodder in hydroponics.
It is a potential that we must exploit. Built in a holistic approach, we are able to create a révolution in all sectors of agriculture and food process

Photo of Zsofia Pasztor

Aquaponics and growing indoors is essential for our future if we are to eat. I very much agree with you. I think more and more people will understand this but it is so important that you are engaging the community. I loved your vision.