From February 25 to March 5, the Paris Exhibition Center hosted the 2023 International Agricultural Show. For half a century, the exhibition has brought together every year all the players in the agricultural world. It is the reference agricultural event, not only in France but also abroad.

This year, Fert and the Cneap network, a federation of professional agricultural education, wanted to celebrate 20 years of partnership in the service of training and professional agricultural integration of young farmers in Africa and more specifically in Madagascar.

Jean Salmon, president of Cneap, and Jean-François Isambert, president of Fert, opened the anniversary event with Benoit Bonaimé, director general of education and research at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty.

Professional leaders from Fekama, a federation of 5 agricultural colleges, a professional organization at the heart of the agricultural training and professional integration system in Madagascar and a member of the Fifata Group, made the trip from the Big Island. Christien Dera, Vice-president of Fekama, and Ando Razafindratsima, its Director, were present to talk about the needs of agricultural training in their country and the challenges of cooperation between Fert and Cneap in this field.

Two round tables

Two round tables bringing together key players in the partnership were organized in order to retrace the history, take stock and consider the future of this partnership, which is intended to last, evolve and inspire new actions.

Why the choice of a long initial training?

Ando Razafindratsima, director of Fekama, Thierry Dedieu, deputy secretary general of Cneap and Hervé Barres, regional delegate of Cneap, addressed the issue of training for the farming profession: What are the needs? What training is needed to meet these needs? What support is needed?

Steering by the profession: what interests, what impacts?

Jean-François Tambourin and Paul-Henri Doublier, both farmers, presidents of agricultural high schools and regional Cneap, along with Ando Razafindratsima, recalled the involvement of Malagasy farmers in the agricultural training project in Madagascar from the outset. The involvement of the profession is essential for a training adapted to the needs of farmers, a support for young people in their professional integration after the training and the facilitation of their progressive involvement in professional agricultural organizations.

“The event celebrating 20 years of partnership between Fert and Cneap allowed us to recognize the importance of the assistance they provide to young Madagascan farmers. It is thanks to this that Dera, a young agricultural college graduate, was able to carry out his projects and be elected vice-president of Fekama. This partnership has supported Fekama and Fifata to develop the activities of the agricultural colleges in order to train young professional farmers capable of ensuring the succession in the farmers’ organizations. Fekama and Fifata are honored to have participated in the round table because it allowed us to present our actions in favor of young Malagasy farmers.”

Regards croisés

Young farmers are of course at the heart of such schemes. That is why it was important to give a voice to young people from there and here. Christien Dera, a young farmer who benefited from a training in one of the Fekama agricultural colleges, testified about his journey and the added value of the training. Today, he is also a young leader and vice-president of Fekama. Raphaël and Dylan, students at the BeauSoleil High School in Céret in the Eastern Pyrenees, spoke about their involvement in international solidarity actions within their high school and in the exchanges carried out at a distance with students from Madagascan agricultural colleges.

Dera’s words

“The exchanges between the French agricultural high schools and the Malagasy agricultural colleges are very interesting for the young people. I myself benefited from this exchange when I was in high school. Young people and trainers from Cneap came to Madagascar to accompany us in the field. These exchanges also continued by e-mail and continue to this day. For example, we shared our experiences on the subject of biological control of crop diseases”.

Raphael’s words

“…] we learn from our malagasy partners because it is an exchange of equals, between students following training and thinking about the future. We are
in reciprocity and sharing. Through the eyes and experience of the other we enrich each other and understand the values we want to have and communicate”.

Dylan’s words

“…] we set up solidarity actions to collect funds for the schooling of Malagasy students. A Bowl of Rice event organized within the school calls for the mobilization of all students and the educational community. We also sold bottles of lavender essential oil.”

To close this strong moment, as a sign of friendship and recognition for the work done and the results achieved, Jean Salmon, president of Cneap, gave the Cneap medal to the presidents of Fifata and Fekama who unfortunately could not make the trip.

Philippe Poussin, secretary general of Cneap, then reminded the audience of the values and fundamentals of this particularly virtuous partnership: “While we are all aware that there is an emergency, our action is long-term; this is not a contradiction. If rapid action is required, the reflection on the one hand and its implementation on the other can only be stretched out over time, a continuity that is constantly reexamined. A partnership, as you will have understood, is built, not exercised quickly. Built on mutual trust, it has a profoundly transforming effect on its members, structuring and moving at the same time.

Discover the Technical Guide for the creation of an agricultural and rural training center!

Together, Fekama, Fert and Cneap announced the project to create a sixth agricultural college in the Vatovavy region. Fert and Cneap also presented their new “Technical Guide for the creation of an agricultural and rural training center” which includes all the steps of reflection, construction and opening of such a center. This guide is the result of 20 years of experience, exchanges and know-how in Madagascar and Côte d’Ivoire. The outcome of this project reflects the convictions of the Fert agri-agency, as stated by its president Jean-François Isambert: “There is no security without food, no food without agriculture, and no sustainable agriculture without well-trained, organized and supportive farmers.