‘I became Pierre the Eggplant’: an agronomist at the service of cooperatives in Togo

When Pierre Tchansi embarked on a mandate with Togo’s Crossroads International partner, La Colombe, he hoped his experience as agronomist would make a difference, but he didn’t anticipate how the experience would impact him.

As rural development specialist now living in Quebec, Pierre was recruited to support the women’s cooperative of the Center for the Self-Advancement of Women (CAF) to grow their farming business and develop a unique competitive advantage in the local market.

 

This project launched, by Crossroads and Togolese partner La Colombe, trains farmers to use ecological and organic techniques, and materials locally available to them for free or at low cost. Pierre drew on his experience as an Agricultural Development Project Manager in Togo to introduce new techniques in their market gardening, growing members skills and capacities. He worked with the women to introduce mixed agricultural production that is more sustainable, as well as introducing drip irrigation in tree nurseries. One secret to their success was the introduction of the white eggplant which can easily be cultivated in intensive market gardening and which proved to be very profitable. The launch of this miracle crop gave the farmers the competitive edge they needed and earned to differentiate themselves, earning the volunteer the affectionate nickname Pierre the Eggplant! Thanks to their new knowledge, the farmers have increased capacity growing their reserves from just 15 000F ($34) to 350 000 CFA francs the equivalent of $800!

But his mission did not stop there. Faced with the strong demand from the women, Pierre also shared poultry and fish farming techniques.

“I am proud to have participated in empowering the SÉVAGAN cooperative to manufacture its own feed, fish feed, for its fish culture,” said Pierre.

 

 

“Then, I accompanied them in establishing pigeon breeding and I received the nickname of Pierre, the Pigeon. I waited for my last days to bring them project ideas for raising snails and planting sugar cane, in order to avoid taking the name Pierre the Snail.”

As a result of these exceptional experiences Pierre has now decided to undertake a master’s degree in international development and humanitarian action in Canada.