Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Songhai Center in Benin


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This is a cool video about the Songhai Center in Benin. Ever since my stint in Benin two years ago, I've been interested and intrigued by the Songhai Center. Its approach to agricultural development is progressive, coherent, integral, all sorts of good stuff. They focus on closing nutrient cycles, favoring integrated plant-animal systems, producing for local niche markets, building equipment and machinery locally. But their absence of a clear political orientation has always left me wondering if they're a front for some sort of "monetize the peasants" campaign, that is to say a project to replace traditional smallholder farming with high tech commercial growers. I still don't know quite what to think of Songhai, but it sure is a cool place. I went there with my parents when they visited me in Benin. We ate a delicious traditional BBQ pork meal at the Songhai restaurant, then my father and I strolled the experimental fields. I pointed out to him cassava, yams, rice, and other crops we don't know much about in the US. It's a really fond memory for me. I'd love to work at Songhai someday, if they'd have me!

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