The Johan Estève agro-piscicultural complex in Zinvié-Zoumé in the municipality of Abomey-Calavi, about forty kilometers from Cotonou, is a multi-purpose farm that is inventing the agriculture and fish farming of tomorrow.
On a long four hectare estate sloping towards a mangrove swamp, Eugénie Faïzoun, manager of the complex, develops her farming activities with great enthusiasm. “Here I have a farm of 3,500 heads of laying hens, a few heads of sheep and goats, rabbits, ducks, a hectare of plantain, and a small market garden. I also have another three hectare oil palm estate and plots for seasonal crops, ”she says.
But in Zinvié-Zoumé, Eugénie Faïzoun owes her reputation above all to fish farming: 21 years of profession; an investment of more than 75 million CFA francs in the construction of eight tanks of 24 square meters, two of nine square meters, one of 42 square meters, the installation of a feed mill and a small hatchery!
Over the past two years, Eugenie has been able to fundamentally transform her farm thanks to a shared-cost subsidy of 14.6 million CFA francs (nearly $ 24,000) from the Agricultural Diversification Support Project -PADA financed by the Bank global. “The support from PADA enabled me to build 5 fish ponds to produce tilapia and clarias fry, to buy a large-capacity generator, to drill and buy broodstock,” he explains. -she. The production of tilapia fry has thus increased from 75,000 to 128,600 and that of clarias fry from 50,000 to 75,000. As a result, her turnover has increased considerably and Eugenie has reinvested a large part of this. money to produce more fish.
Eugenie also improved the quality and quantity of her production by obtaining a more efficient breeding strain thanks to another project financed by the World Bank, the Agricultural Productivity Program in West Africa (WAAPP).
All this work and innovation has brought unique expertise to the Johan Estève agricultural complex, which now serves as a farm school for many fish farmers in Abomey-Calavi and the surrounding municipalities. “I have already trained 227 people through projects funded by Japan and the World Bank,” she says. Marcel Aklassato Kpatindé, fish farmer in Pahou (commune of Ouidah) was one of his students, “Eugenie trained me in the technique of insemination of fry which I did not master at all. I assure you that this lady is a reference in our profession. ”
Eugenie has also forged an informal partnership with the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Abomey-Calavi, which regularly sends volunteers for internships to her farm. Just like the Médji agricultural school in Sékou, whose students come to learn about animal production.
For a few months now, Eugenie, who also chairs the Regional Union of Atlantic Fish Farmers Cooperatives, has started new work to extend her production unit. “I started to clear the trees from the river. My idea is to make an artificial lake and install floating cages and enclosures there, ”she says. In the medium term, it plans to exploit two potential hectares of water surface for an investment of around CFAF 100 million. In order to be able to carry out the first phase of the project, she requested a loan of 20 million CFA francs using the Guarantee Fund set up by PADA. This money will mainly be used to buy 5 enclosures (15 million CFA francs). While waiting for the response to her loan request, she cleared a portion of 2,800 square meters on which she installed an enclosure and three floating cages donated by PADA.
Eugenie would also like to stop importing pre-maturing fry feed. “Importing food is costing me too much. The kilo of imported feed for tilapia costs between 800 and 1000 CFA francs, while what I make in an artisanal way costs me 350 CFA francs per kilo. The problem is, I can’t make the pre-fatter foods without an extruder. ” However, for the moment there is no industrial production extruder in Benin. To find it, you have to go to Ghana where a foreign company produces feed that it sells to several African countries. But it takes more to discourage Eugenie, who has just discovered that small extruders can be purchased in Benin at around CFAF 50 million.
Eugenie’s journey commands admiration. The prize for the best fish farmer, awarded to her by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in 2013, does not make her regret having abandoned her studies in accounting management to devote herself to fish farming, her passion. “What I’m most proud of is to have succeeded where a lot of men have failed,” she admits. The income from his farm has enabled him to acquire real estate and provide a good education for his two daughters who have gone to universities in Canada.