Beyond the micro-project: a new strategy in Benin

From 1989, an attempt to improve agriculture by directly addressing ignorance and fatalism has been developed in Benin by an Italian NGO, Mani Tese, based on attempts to provide traditional peasant farmers with better qualifications and greater motivation. The approach consists of funding a network of school-farms, or Centres of Rural Promotion (CRPs) dedicated to teaching modern agricultural techniques in an appropriate and local context. The main aim of the strategy is to create a new kind of peasant farmer: one who has a good technological/cultural background, and is able to exploit all the locally available resources in a sustainable way. The paper discusses the importance of employing local personnel, and some of the problems that still need to be met (such as developing effective post-training assistance). It is concluded that this form of development aid allows the NGO to entrust the ultimate beneficiaries with as much responsibility as possible, and therefore allow the project to become autonomous. Abstract supplied by kind permission of CABI.