CATREP: mission possible

 By Ginevra Mancinelli

We take groups of motivated people who want to learn something new, provide skills, tools and help, and we put everything together to make a difference…

This is CATREP (Centre d’Appui Technique et Ressources Professionnelles), an initiative started in the Republic of the Congo, in the Hinda area north of Pointe-Noire. Men and women working the soil here decided to take part in a revolution, a new way of thinking and practice agriculture.

The situation has really changed. People are very interested and come to ask questions. They want to come and work here to learn

Mbama Hishia, training leader

Eni Congo, with the support of the Congolese Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MAEP), is developing a new form of agriculture, to overcome the “second job” prejudice which is linked to livelihood activities and allowing these become in the common imaginary, a source of income, something to aspire to.
The achievement of such a goal can only be feasible through commitment, persistence, and strong will. Everyone who has decided to be involved in this initiative has attended a training programme, given oneself a challenge, and laid the foundations to start doing something different from their daily jobs.

Eni Congo promotes a modern way of doing agriculture that will be recognised in the popular imagination as a source of income (Ricardo Franco)

New life for agriculture

The first thing to do was to get equipped with infrastructures. Contrary to what one might expect, agriculture is barely developed in the Congo. Or rather, it is not practiced by many people (20% compared to 70% in the rest of the continent) and much of the infrastructure around the country isn’t really in great condition. This is where CATREP steps in with Phase 1: reinstate and build new agricultural infrastructure within CATREP site. Phase 2: the start of agriculture and livestock activities.

Determination and collaboration have allowed the creation of jobs at CATREP for 95 producers and provided support and access to the market for almost 180 farmers and 895 families. However, what these numbers do not show is the passion and willingness of the group of people who decided to put a different face to the local reality.
Quality products being sold on the local market have translated into better nutrition for a lot of farmers and for their families, able to experience the benefits of their own contribution.
Agriculture and livestock have not just produced an income here: they’ve become a tool for a higher purpose.

One of the World Food Programme’s (WFP) main aims in the Congo, as in other countries, is providing food in schools, particularly for more vulnerable children from poor families. […] There’s a recording by the WFP of children saying, “When we’re hungry, we can’t understand maths”, we can’t listen to the teacher. And when you’re hungry, the route to school becomes much harder

Solange Ongoly Goma Angouligoma,
coordinator of the Projet d’Appui aux Petits Producteurs

Quality products being sold on the local market has translated into better nutrition for a lot of farmers and to their families (Ricardo Franco)

Today, this is possible. Thanks to a particular crop, namely beans, and the support of a big organisation like the WFP, children of the schools in the CATREP project site, can fill their bellies, brains, and dreams. Because a child who’s not starving can have the energy to imagine a brighter future, for themselves and for others.

Farming plants and animals have not just produced an income here: they've become a tool for a higher purpose (Ricardo Franco)

READ MORE: Go, ConGo! by Simona Manna

about the author
Ginevra Mancinelli