Supporting sustainable market-gardening in Togo
Agriculture is fairly common in most cities and towns in Togo. Market gardeners are mostly found within or around cities such as Lomé, Atakpamé, Sokodé, Kara and Dapaong. In the last decade there has been an increase in the number of market gardeners in Togo, especially in the maritime region which accounted for about 17.000 gardeners in 1995. The three main market garden zones in Lomé are the industry–port zone (9 km from the city centre), the Baguida zone (12 km away), and the Kpogan zone (20 km away) and Vodougbé (30 km from Lomé).
Today, these zones have more than 1200 market gardeners who produce mainly crops such as spinach (gboma), kerria (adémè), cabbage, carrots, lettuce, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and beets. The total cultivated area in these main zones is more than 900 hectare. The vegetables are sold on local markets in the Lomé region, in the city of Lomé and a small percentage 25% is exported to neighbouring countries like Benin, Niger, Burkina Faso and Mali.
About 95% of the market gardeners in the Lomé region use chemical fertilizers compared with 29% nationally. The explanation for the widespread use of chemical and mineral fertilizers in Lomé is that these inputs are required by the intensive system of agriculture in use and the soil’s lack of fertility. This type of intensive agriculture is a danger to the local population and the environment. Besides this environmental impact the use of chemical pesticides is very costly.
Marketing vegetables is also a concern of the growers. In the current marketing system, each grower operates on the basis of a wholesale contract with a number of women who retail the vegetables on big markets in Lomé. Once the gross of the products are sold through the female retailers, the growers’ wives take the rest to the markets in the city. There again, the resellers hold the powerful position, because the growers, or their wives, do not have the time to remain seated at the market and retail their vegetables. Neither do they have access to cold storage rooms. Moreover is financing a problem for most market gardeners as it is practically impossible to obtain loans.
Because of the importance of market gardening in Togo and the negative effects which urban agriculture can have when not planned and monitored well, this project aims for one part to educate the 1000 market gardeners in the three main market garden zones in Lomé how to use organic methods for pest control and how to avoid the misuse of prohibited pesticides such as DDT and Endosulfan. Secondly the action aims to strengthen the position of growers and their wives in marketing their products on the vegetable markets in Lomé.
In order to achieve these goals the project comprises the organizations of 12 local networks associated to a national trade networks which promote the needs of market gardeners in the Lomé area. The project will help the network to deliver services to their members as for example training in pest control, transport facilities, cold storage in the city of Lomé and financing.
Concretely the following results are foreseen within the project;
1000 market gardens are trained in the misuse of pesticides and in alternative (organic) methods for pest control;
the amount spent by growers on chemical fertilizers have dropped;
1000 market farmers are associated through trade networks and are able to sell qualitative products for a competitive price in the area of Lomé;
awareness among stakeholders in the production chain about the advantages of organic cultivated vegetables;
the average income of a household with market gardening as a main activity euros 360 per year has grown with 40%