With the “Plantons Utile” project, Equestrio Foundation has financed the planting of 30,000 mangrove trees in Senegal. Reforesting nature is already a huge step for biodiversity. But this project is about so much more than that. It’s a story of people who love nature and Africa and who commit alongside local populations to rehabilitate rural life. It’s the story of men and women who share and learn, together. Let’s meet them and hear their story through their own words…
Once upon a time, there was an agro-ecological farm in Senegal
An agro-ecological farm located in Casamance, a rural region in the south of Senegal particularly affected by environmental changes, massive deforestation and the exodus of the population.
This farm stems from an encounter between Clément Sambou, an agronomist by training and co-founder of the Senegalese social start-up Eco From Africa (EFA), and Quentin Lemetais, director of Plantons Utile Switzerland. In the wake of their participation in the COP21, Clément and Quentin decided to launch this agro-ecological farm project which they designed as a place of sharing and learning. Their objective is clear, says Quentin: “to support initiatives in favour of environmental protection, while having a strong social impact through the creation of an educational farm“.
To carry out their project, the two entrepreneurs are supported by a team of volunteers, experts in their field and passionate about the environment. To name but a few, Erwan Demenga (communications officer), Nadia Correa (environmental consultant) and Ophélie Aiemerton (secretary).
Above all, they rely on the energy and capacities of the local population, who remain the driving force of the project.
Back to the roots
This adventure is a real return to the roots for Clément. Born in Casamance and working in the north of the country, he has always been eager to go back to his home village to provide concrete solutions. For Quentin, Franco-Swiss, it is the expression of a deep attachment to the African land and its population that he supports through the numerous projects led by his association.
A shared commitment that the 2 acolytes most certainly draw from their family heritage since Clément’s father, his “mentor“, is a rural development agent and director of CARITAS Casamance, while Quentin’s father is the founder of Plantons Utile – “Since I was a child, I have been inspired by what my father has carried out in the field of international sustainable development. Driven by the same values, I remained true to this vision by bringing together the same principles in this project in Senegal“.
A story of transmission
Transmission…a value at the heart of this project which is based on three complementary pillars. The preservation of the environment of course, through, among other things, the planting of trees to restore the mangrove. But also the raising of environmental awareness and training in market gardening and processing.
The results? 50 hectares divided into a 2-hectare farm following the principle of polyculture, 10 hectares made available to entrepreneurs, 10 hectares dedicated to agro-forestry, a 10-hectare botanical garden, an eco-village as well as eco-buildings for training courses in agro-ecology. The full pack!
This farm forms a veritable ecosystem based on the guiding principle au full autonomy: “The major objective for this year (Ed. Note: 2022) is to demonstrate that it’s totally possible to be autonomous and self-sufficient on a 2-hectare plot in Senegal. This will be achieved through the creation of income-generating activities such as market gardening, animal breeding, agro-forestry and culture processing.”
To be continued…
At Equestrio Foundation, we were not only impressed by the enthusiasm and expertise of the project leaders but also by their vision resolutely geared towards the long term. We are convinced that this is the key to the viability of such a programme.
In just four years, the team has already achieved the equivalent of six years’ work despite numerous challenges, including the difficulty of finding the necessary manpower and of convincing the population of the project’s benefits. Challenge met! And, already, Quentin and Clément are setting their sights on the years to come… until the day when, we hope, the farm and the village dwellers will have reached total self-sufficiency and this mission will thus be fully accomplished!
In the meantime, Plantons Utile relies on funding to continue sowing the seeds of autonomy. So don’t hesitate, you too, to contribute to the continuation of this fascinating story which does so much good for the environment, the animals, the women and the men of Casamance!
For donations, it’s here! 👈
And to share, this way! 👇