Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Centre Songhai - Porto Novo

Centre Songhai is a chain of agricultural research centres established by a Nigerian American for the promotion of the study of sustainable farming techniques. They grow crops and fruit, raise animals for eggs and meat, turn the crops into products (and make use of all waste products in one way or another) and then sell them...and they have a 'village' where people can come and learn the techniques they use.

Our guide took us all around the large site, explaining the way the planting is done so that they grow some plants in the shade of other ones and how some plants are grown for specific purposes - eg water purification near to the toilets for the waste water that is produced.
They grow many crops and then make products from them eg we saw soya oil and beans, and then we saw biscuits being made using the products.

There were many ovens around the site - each with designated use, this one was for coconuts, near to one for smoking chickens and one for smoking pigs! They try not to waste anything, so once things have been cooked in ovens the remaining heat is used to dry other things out. The outside of the coconuts are broken down and used for compost, other plant waste is stored in holes in the ground where the gases produced are used for cooking and the water produced is used for fertiliser.

They have a dark room where they grow mushrooms for cooking and drying.

They breed catfish, they are fed on waste produced elsewhere on the site which is made into fish pellets which is what Tom is feeding them here

They grow their own fruit. The mangos and pineapples etc are made into juices and jams.

And something we have become familiar with on the ship - green oranges!!

There is so much more to the Centre than it is possible to explain in a short blog. Be grateful to have been spared the pictures of the maggots and giant snails and fowl and the endless pictures of random plants!! One bizarre thing that I wish I had a decent picture of was what they called (and didn't know how to translate) the 'grass cutters' some creatures that were the size of beavers that none of us had seen before!


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