When DR Congo was in lockdown due to Covid-19, Agriterra business advisor Faustin When DR Congo was in a lockdown due to Covid-19, Agriterra business advisor Faustin and the managers of 6 rice cooperatives had a phone conversation on youth involvement.
The youth had a plan and the managers committed to invest in their plans. A new project was born!
Two months later, Faustin went out for a field visit to meet 16 youngsters from 6 cooperatives in the Ruzizi plain. Jointly, they created a fish farming project. They agreed to a contribution of 5 dollars each to finance the project and every Sunday they have a meeting to evaluate their activities. During these meetings, an extra 0,25 dollars each is contributed by each member of the youth group to strengthen their funds.
You may wonder, why fish farming? That is because the area offers two interesting opportunities: it is a good place for fishing ponds and there is a high demand for fish, while the supply lagging behind.
And who are these young people? Faustin explains: “They are the children of the cooperative’s farmer members. As they do not have the financial means to pay member contribution, the youth are not members themselves. The cooperative helps them to obtain fish farming materials and makes its office space available for the youth to hold their weekly meetings. In addition, the manager provides advice to the group on their business, as the group still needs training to become better organized in doing business.”
Currently, the cooperative does not get anything in return for their investments, but in the long-term, the business needs to be professionalized and the youth can help the cooperative with problem solving. They know how to use ICT and social media, which is an opportunity.
One of the cooperatives’ managers told Faustin that he choose to invest in this group of youth because most of them have an educational background in agronomy and he sees potential in them to become an agronomist or accountant within the cooperative.
Eventually, Faustin linked these young people to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) to purchase small fishes to put in a readily prepared fish pond. The IITA is located in Bukavu, about 70km from the place where the young people live. It is the financial contributions of the youth that will enable them to purchase the small fish.