During the 6th International Congress in Fondacio, Togo, a group of delegates immersed themselves, on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in the Dalavé farm-school project. Founded by Professor Agbati, entrepreneur, engineer and teacher-researcher, the Feab is a place of experimentation to improve the daily life of Togolese households with the means at hand, in respect for nature. It is a partner of projects that are supported by Fondacio, which use its technologies.
“I was born 25 minutes from here. I followed my mother to the fields from the age of 4. At the age of 7, I cultivated my little fields of sweet potatoes.” Professor Koffigan Agbati, Togolese engineer, business manager and teacher-researcher at the University of Lomé, continues: “After studying nuclear energy, I came back home to transform this small hamlet into a big field. It’s time for us to come back to earth. I chose one of the most favorable places in Togo because, here, two winds converge: the monsoon and the harmattan.”
The professor, director of TMSU international , a company with a social vocation, is building his project in Dalavé, 30km north of Lomé. The agroecology and bioenergy farm-school (Feab) emerged from the ground in 2015. This research and development (R&D) laboratory is carefully organized into several blocks. They are either cultivated (vegetables, plants, tubers), or reserved for breeding (ducks, goats, hens, fish) or for manufacturing workshops (improved hearths).
You can find prototypes everywhere: water purifier, model composter (degradation of materials in two weeks instead of three months), system for extracting essential oils… ” The Feab was born from a simple observation: the autonomy of man and energies. We have created an integrated system.”
A virtuous circle
For this, the professor and his teams have bet on the development of bioenergies , which are part of the large family of renewable energies. “For example, we have developed a solar dryer (for vegetables, cereals, tubers, etc.), a carbonization tank and a geothermal system. We also capture the heat of the sun through mirrors”, says Koffigan Agbati. At the same time, the school-farm uses solar panels to pump water from more than 93 meters deep. Here, it’s simple: nothing is lost, everything is recycled.
Illustration with wet livestock or crop waste (corn, etc.). They are deposited in the biodigester (90 tons), which produces biogas and provides liquid energy. “It’s a virtuous circle. The biogas then produces light and becomes a source of heat.” In particular, it supplies a fireplace that recycles plastic bags , without emitting toxic fumes. The heat melts the plastic. The smoke passes through a pipe which goes down to the hearth and feeds it. Paving blocks are then obtained by mixing the magma with fine sand.
Solutions accessible to all
Another example with the animals raised on site: they are treated with decoctions of herbs grown by the farm-school. ” So we’re not dependent on veterinary chemistry.” Professor Agbati clarifies: “We make things accessible so that the old mother in the village can easily use it. We train village leaders in these technologies, in seven different languages and five countries (Togo, Benin, Ghana, Senegal, Cap Vert). The agroecological vision must change in Togo.”
To this end, the Feab regularly welcomes interns, Togolese and foreign, and trains hundreds of students at the University of Lomé. It is a partner of nearly ten universities in France (Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Montpellier, etc.). Awareness-raising actions in Togolese schools are also organized. “Every Friday, we install a model biodigester and small mobile composters. We also do eco-slams, slams on the environment. But the fundamental is the everyday friend: Sichem. It’s like one family, with Christ at the base. Many things connect us. We share the same philosophy of development.”
“The land here is paradise”
Sichem and the Fondacio Training Institute (IFF) in Africa are partners of TMSU international and Feab. “We met the professor at the French Embassy,” says Ferdinand Adindjita, director of IFF Africa. ” He carries a message of humility and modesty.” Sichem uses the technologies developed by the professor and his teams. The center has installed a biodigester. He has been using improved stoves (for cooking) for two years.
“Sichem affects 11 villages and 60,000 households”, continues Ferdinand Adindjta. “We can perfect and popularize the use of improved stoves. This partnership has many ramifications.” During the Fondacio International Congress in Togo, in May 2023, the water was purified with filters developed by Feab. Since its creation, seven years ago, this water dynamizer is also used by many health centers in Togo .
Antoine Dzama, in charge of monitoring the Africa Office and IFF Africa, says: “I was part of the Fondacio Council, from 2001 to 2018. After the Congress in the Philippines, in 2018, I left with the certainty of being expected there, in the field. I came back to deep convictions: the land here is paradise. I found at home what I was looking for everywhere.” He adds: “In Togo, we say that a source is never great. The Feab is a source place. It draws on the knowledge of our ancestors, who cultivated this land. I pray that it will be a source place for Fondacio.”
“Follow the principles used here”
Today, Professor Agbati counts three forms of benefits: ecological, economic and socio-cultural. “These are the three pillars of sustainable development. On the social level, I manage to feed 300 young people a month and to integrate people into the job market. Personally, it brings me inner peace. We went beyond the challenges by working in a collegial way. Man’s life is to overcome challenges, together. It’s also about sharing problems and solving them together.”
Marc Bezançon, in charge of international fundraising at Fondacio, shares, after the visit of the Feab: “First, I’m touched by the effort of imagination and R&D to build operational and useful solutions for all. Then I tell myself that we are so behind, in Europe, on everything that should be used to better treat our planet… We could do it if we followed the principles used here.” François Prouteau, president of Fondacio from 2013 to 2023, completes: “We are turned upside down. It is up to us to make good bread out of it to be good Earthlings.”