Present in Togo since 2005, ProNatura West Africa organises the production of organic pineapples grown by more than 300 farmers gathered in 35 groups.
A project representing ProNatura’s values
This long term project aims to transform subsistence farming, which production was sold on the local market at low prices, into an export activity at higher prices, bringing to farmers the salaries required for a real development. It also diversifies the salaries sources through the transformation of the pineapples into juice and dried fruit and through growing peanuts.
ProNatura West Africa finances ecological and fair trade certificates, leads and manages, with the support of about twenty Togolese employees, the production and the conditioning central built by ProNatura.
This balanced exchange creates activity and promotes the farmers and their families’ maintenance in their villages, as this teacher’s comment illustrates:
“Now that ProNatura regularly sells our pineapples, my school is always full; before, children only came when their parents did not need them for helping them sell their fruit in markets”.
In 2005, ProNatura France, which carried out its commercial activities in the region since 2002 with BioTogo network, decided to get involved in a better organised way in order to bring its know-how, its knowledge of the European markets and of new human resources and investments. ProNatura West Africa (PNWA) was created in Togo as an ecological and social project.
In 2014, human and company dimension were made tangible by obtaining Ecocert ESR fair trade certificate for the whole Togolese ecological production.
An ideal region
Producers are located in the South West of the country, where geographical zones, mountainous, intermediate and maritime plains offer the perfect agro-ecological conditions for growing organic pineapples.
– Blifou zone: mountainous region where most fields are sloping land. Pineapple is sometimes associated with peanuts or manioc during the first part of its cycle. Temperatures are lower in this region with little sun during some seasons and with perfect precipitations. Plain harvest is in mid-June.
-Danyi plateaus zone: intermediate sector with a lot of sun and less rain where about a hundred producers are gathered. The production optimum takes place in November.
– Dzolo zone: plain region 50km far from the coast. Very sunny and less rainy, it has big plots and diverse crops. January is the most intense harvest month.
A rural organisation and tradition in line with organic production mode
Organic agriculture is possible because of the Togolese production structure. Dimly aimed at export, there are food and extensive crops on which synthesis chemicals are not used.
Organic agriculture mode enables the producers and their families to continue carrying out an agriculture that complies with their tradition without any health or environmental risks.
In order to promote and guarantee the strict application of organic agriculture rules, ProNatura leans on the extraordinary dynamic linked to the producers’ organisation. It is based on about 30 producers associations, gathered in several groups on a village or region scale. Freely choosing to become a member of an organisation, the producers are responsible for the group and there is a lot of solidarity. More or less, half of the fields are reserved for growing organic pineapples for export, the only commercial crop. Two varieties are grown:
– Smooth Cayenne, that represents 80% of the production, is well adapted to this environment; it resists to usual illnesses. It has a very good taste thanks to the balance between the high sugar level and an acid touch; when ripe, its flesh is golden, even if its peel is green. Very flavoured and juicy.
– Pain de sucre pineapple, 20% of the production, is an original variety with a high sugar level and honey flavour. This fruit is easily recognised by its conic form and white flesh.
Togo’s peanut production is the way of continuing the sustainable project of the pineapple production. In order to ensure the soils rotation and benefit from rich soils, the producers alternate pineapple production and food or peanuts crops. The latter represent an interesting source of vegetal proteins for families. Smaller than other peanuts, they are very tasty. They are known for they natural caramel flavour, generally obtained after being toasted.
Other products are also being developed, like passion fruit, avocados, papaya…