Lights, camera, agri-preneurship!
Ferme Factory is a Senegalese TV series that encourages training and entrepreneurship for rural youth. As the name suggests – ‘ferme’ is a farm in French – the reality show focuses on agriculture. Our Foundation is among the supporters.
Ferme Factory (FF) got off to a good start in 2018, with about 750,000 viewers on RTS1 and OkayAfrica. It also received international mentions in the press. The organizers recently launched Season 2 in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. Among the more than 100 participants were government officials and representatives of the financial sector. Our Foundation is partnering with FF in connection with our Farmers’ Hub initiative to help young people prosper in the agricultural sector (see below).
FF’s Director Ousmane Faye says: "The concept is for young individuals to become self-reliant entrepreneurs who handle their own farms. We ‘incubate’ them hands-on for six months.” This year’s farm is in a different area to 2018. Participants have to operate the property, with appropriate coaching. Faye adds: “We think that’s an interesting framework for a very tough test!”
“For us at the Syngenta Foundation, this TV show is a great contribution to addressing a major challenge”, explains Marnie Pannatier from our Agriservices team. “Senegal, like many other countries, has large numbers of talented young people who currently don’t see enough opportunities in the countryside. Ferme Factory is one part of the drive to stimulate youth entrepreneurship, modernization, jobs, and economic growth.”
In some European countries, certain programs have given “reality-TV” a bad name. But FF doesn’t fall into the ‘sensationalization trap’. As Ousmane Faye makes clear: “The objective here is to learn the virtues of work and social cooperation. FF is about knowing how to share, be united, and learn resilience. It emphasizes that you can’t pretend to be an agri-preneur – you first have to work hard on personal development.” As well as business and social skills, FF topics also include understanding the importance of land, respect for the environment, ecological concepts and biodiversity. When the second season’s incubation and contest finishes, each of the 23 winners will have a fully-fledged farm ready to go.
“Agriculture contributes approximately 14 percent of Senegal’s GDP and could be a job breeding- ground”, emphasizes our regional director Youssou Diagne. “But many young people here think the earnings are ridiculously low for all the hard work. Designed in collaboration with state experts, Ferme Factory seeks to alter their view of agriculture and encourage young talents to switch to this business. We are delighted to be involved.”
Beginning of June 2019, FF visited our Lendeng site for a day of activities. The Syngenta Foundation team in Senegal provided the jury for a Ferme Factory challenge. 38 candidates had three hours to weed a 0.25 ha cabbage plot, clean the perimeter of a Farmers’ Hub, commission a greenhouse installed earlier in the week, and plant 4000 pepper seedlings.
"It was a vibrant and productive day," smiles our team member Ousmane Sow. “These young people are really enthusiastic about farming. They also wanted to learn more about our Hub. We showed them all the services on offer: nurseries, mechanization, advice/assistance, etc. I know that there will only be 23 winners in the end. But all 38 were prospective agri-preneurs for a Farmers' Hub!
See pictures of the day below