Sunday, September 21, 2014

The incubées describe their experience (Part 3)

Joseph Ngalu Ngalu

“My first impressions are good. It’s a beautiful adventure where I am learning a lot. Before this, I was groping along, but the project showed me where to start, the broad principles, the boundaries... It’s concrete now. (...) I learned to become autonomous, I can trust myself now. With regards to administration, I have to keep a document with all the data, unlike the peasant practice. On the technical plan, I was able to master the value chain from production to marketing. I also mastered the steps of agroforestry in space (acacia and fruit trees). My dream is to create an agricultural business to be autonomous. (...) I learned with the workers, that if you don’t cooperate with them, there will be consequences in the work... I learned to make them feel at ease while being a leader. You have to respect them. It creates a climate of trust. “

Serge Makelela

“For the first time, we put in place hectares of soya and cassava cross-culture. We learned that we wouldn’t reach the standard yields. In fact the predictions were made on the basis of a standard yield, but the actual yields were lower. Maybe we should have taken into consideration the fact that soy was planted in association with cassava and acacia, as opposed to a monoculture. (...) It’s an innovative project, where we associate acacia trees, cassava, fruit trees... With this experience I feel well-equipped for the future. I will work well because of this project. Personally, I learned a lot. (...) There is an exchange of experience with the others. I acquired a lot of experience with my fellow incubatees. We have to continue in this direction, and accumulate capital to be able to continue. We are pioneers. The project must go forward . 

Nestor Mulamba

“The project allowed us to put the theory into practice. It allowed me to work and manage 2.5 ha. (...) The niebe crop didn’t adapt well to the season. We couldn’t harvest anything. I struggled, re-planted and this time it’s working. I did my investigation, re-read a few authors… it looks like niebe isn’t adapted to the long season. [The project] allowed me to manage financial resources, human resources and material resources. (...) At the very beginning, it was difficult. The workers think they know how to do things, and we also have our own method. There are contradictions. We tried to reconcile the methods and to adapt ourselves. Some of their methods waste space. For cassava, they sow with a hoe. That way, the cuttings don’t burn. (…) The future is better. I now feel capable of doing everything. The next cohorts will have models to follow. “

Dady Makaya

“[With this project] you can perfect your professional experience. It’s a service to the Congolese nation. The country expects us to feed the population. Here I was given the financial means, the material means, housing.... You have to have a business plan, a very important tool for any future entrepreneur in order to launch an activity. It’s the daily management of a private business, you need to organize, you need to coordinate. You need to works hands-on, you need to pay people. (...) I learned from the others, and the others learned from me. It is important to integrate ourselves to their way of life (the peasants). “

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The incubées describe their experience (Part 2)

Four of the twenty incubées from the project received their plots in Mongata, a little further east of Ibi, on a field bought by the ISAV. These four young entrepreneurs share their impressions in this update.

Emmanuel Mwanangulu
“For now, we haven’t touched what we were expecting yet. The intercroppings on which we were cropping failed to give a proper yield. The cassava should be more rewarding. In terms of field work, it’s going pretty well (...) We have to be careful with the weeding, because of intercropping. We had to hold meetings with the workers to plan the weeding. It works pretty well. (...) At the ISAV, I was really good with theory and practice on small surfaces.  With the project, I learned how to work on and manage hectares, and not just small patches with annuals and perennials.”

Jeancy Peta

"It is, more than anything, the field experience. Experience in management and also in facilitating communication with the peasants. (...) We were well prepared for what was awaiting us on the field. (...) [We learned] to negotiate with peasants. How to understand peasants, to know their milieu… (…) I would say that it’s going to get better. It will allow us to dare create our own small businesses.”

Bernard Ngudiankama
“This allowed new engineers to be in contact with practices on the field. In practice, we didn’t know, for example, what 2000 hectares were like. The unemployment rate is high. This will allow us to be entrepreneurs, to work. (...) It is difficult to adapt, the conditions weren’t all there. There are some technical aspects for which we hadn’t had training. (...) We should have a system to be able to communication and share with partners elsewhere. (...) I learned to calculate production costs with all the parameters, the material, durable life, amortization... (...) The little I will receive will help me create my own enterprise. A suggestion: After the incubator is over, we should do a follow-up with all the engineers.”

Fils Bonzenga

"We hope to have something good with the cassava. We are trained, and with all the training, it will help us launch our own enterprises. (...) There were failures with the niebe, there wasn’t enough people to do all the work. (...) The accounting, the profitability costs for crops, taking into account all those factors… is required knowledge for us. Agroforestry is a good system, especially with the fruit trees. (...) We hope it will go well. We just have to hope. The agricultural sector holds promises."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The incubé-e-s describe their experience (Part 1)

The incubating agro-engineers in Ibi and Mongata shared with us earlier this month their experience with the project so far. Although they had to overcome many unexpected challenges, there is also a lot of optimism with the incoming cassava harvest and the numerous lessons learned. We start with the initial impressions from 5 incubé-e-s from Ibi.

Aaron Mbuyamba

 “Having 5 hectares at my disposal allowed me to express myself, to decide on what to cultivate, etc. (...) Normally season B starts on February 15, and I started planting on March 15. With regards to the climate, there was drought. (...) I learned many things, for example how to create and manage a business. Also training with GIS, which is useful to locate a plot on a map and to convince someone, to show with details on an image. (...) I had never worked with people before. I learned to manage people, with a team of up to 30 people. I learned to act like a real leader, to not give to caprices, to not get upset easily for example. In terms of diversification, I have fish that are growing well. I also always had in mind the idea of raising chicken.”

Dieudonné Otshudi

“The project brought expertise, practical training with management. (...) There was a delay in terms of execution with regards to the calendar, which caused many failures in our fields. (...) I had a contact with the reality of agroforestry. I learned how to manage a business; how to manage temporary workers. I am putting into practice what I learned. (...)[The incubator] gave us a hand. But I can’t place all my hope on it due to the uncertainty of rentability.”

Patrick Kabangi

"I succeeded only with peanuts so far. I planted 2.5 hectares and got 14 bags (50k each). The project gave me experience. I worked on a large space. (…) When I took my products out, the market was inundated. This is due in part to the fact that the warehouse isn’t built yet. (...) I improved what I learned in university. I got a field to express myself, to showcase my talents. (...) The temporary workers from the village know the area well and some of them have an agricultural experience that was helpful. By listening to them we can improve our results. (…) It’s my dream to be able to manage a large agricultural business one day.”

Michelle Sangwa Fatuma

“Despite the delays, we can see the project. (...) Due to the delays, we haven’t been able to intercrop with the cassava. (…) Planting crops over large spaces, managing workers who can be difficult but with whom we still have to work, living with other people outside the family… This is where I am seeing what I will be doing tomorrow. I have the opportunity to have a parcel of my own. (...) What interests me most is transformation. I need to do an experiment with making yogourt out of soybean, and create my own brand.”

Sylvain Shamba

"This project taught me many things. First, there is agroforestry. There are many techniques I have learned. Second, there is entrepeneurship. Third, there is the fund at my disposal for the fields and raising animals. (...) We teamed up into a group of 4 and made a canteen where we can eat together. We came to know each other better. Now, we know one another and complete each other well. (...) I am optimistic. With the means I will have after the harvest and the techniques I’ve learned here, I will launch my business. The future is good.”

Monday, June 2, 2014

Makala Renouvelable featured in two conferences in Guelph

Last month, Makala Renouvelable project was featured in two conferences in Guelph, providing an opportunity to share the ideas behind and achievements of the project with various scholars and development professionals from around the world.

At the Guelph Development Symposium, organized by the Ontario Veterinary College, taking place May 4-7, the presentation on the project was part of a session on value-added family agriculture, where experts from Asia, Africa and Latin America shared innovative practices developed to improve opportunities for small farmers. Now three years running, the Guelph Development Symposium has seen the convergence of hundreds of academics and practitioners in the field of development, placing special emphasis on the role of agriculture.

Later that month, on May 19-20, the project was the subject of a poster presentation at the Glocal Classroom seminar, an event organized in collaboration with universities in South Africa, Australia and Sweden. Scholars and practitioners from all continents were here to discuss innovations in communication and education with regards to rural development. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Project Update (September 2013 to March 2014)

Results from the first short season of growing are starting to trickle in from Ibi, where the Incubées are experimenting with agroforestry production. During this first short season, each incubée was allocated 2.5 hectares on which to plant the acacia and cassava intercropping along with a shorter-term crop. Most of them chose to grow niebe beans, soybeans, peanuts, or a combination of different crops.

Bobette and her first niebe harvest

As a reminder, this first short season is only the beginning of the acacia tree’s 6-year growth period. During this time, the cassava harvest will also be possible after 18 months. For these first few months, the incubées were able to reap benefits averaging $220.50 US, a promising start. Benefits varied between a profit of $1,187 and a loss of $564. Of the 20 incubées, 8 of them made benefits over $200, while 5 had losses between $20 and $564. A major part of the losses is attributed to the choice of variety of niebe beans that yielded almost nothing. Most of the incubées’ income however is expected to come from cassava, which should be harvested in June. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Makala Renouvelable featured at CIDA

Makala Renouvelable was the subject of a presentation last week at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) which partly funds the project. We are happy to make the presentation available here.

It is also our pleasure to announce that our presentation at the Global Development Symposium in Guelph will take place on May 5, between 3:45 and 5:15. More information and a full schedule available at:

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Makala Renouvelable at the Global Development Symposium

The Makala Renouvelable Project will the subject of a presentation at the Global Development Symposium, to be held in Guelph on May 4-7, 2014.

The conference will focus on the three components of global public health, community empowerment, and food and water security. It takes place bi-annually and attracts dozens of scholars who share their experience working in development projects around the world.

Follow this blog for more details as the conference draws nearer.