BY Ben Ebuka, 10:30am May 08, 2023,

This entrepreneur is promoting sustainable farming through organic fertilizer production

Ayihounoun founded Africabio, an NGO focused on raising awareness about sustainable agricultural practices. Photo credit: Tony Elumelu Foundation.

Constant Difa Ayihounoun, a 22-year-old CEO from the Republic of Benin, began his entrepreneurship journey at the age of 18 when he founded Africabio, an NGO focused on raising awareness about sustainable agricultural practices. While training at an environmental impact studies firm in 2018, he studied the impact of human economic activities on the environment.

“My research allowed me to discover that agriculture alone is responsible for more than 25% of global warming, and therefore has a huge negative impact on the environment,” Ayihounoun told Forbes Africa.

Following his research, he began providing information to the uninformed players in the agric sector and founded Africabio. With tremendous support from his community, Ayihounoun decided to pursue entrepreneurship and expand his awareness program on good agricultural practices. He also enrolled at the University of Abomey, where he studied entrepreneurship and management enterprises, with a specialization in environment and green economy.

While interacting and collaborating with farmers, he discovered their challenges, including low soil fertility, pest management, and low crop yield. This discovery spurred him to establish AGRECO Sarl.

“Speaking of the consequence on the soil, we have discovered that one of the main disadvantages of chemical fertilizers is their high content of sulphuric and hydrochloric acids,” Ayihounoun explained.

“These lead to the destruction of microorganisms and trace elements that are present in the soil, thus, the first consequence of the use of chemical fertilizers is the depletion of the soil, which leads to a drop in yield, and the exposure of crops to attacks and diseases,” he added.

The first challenge Ayihounoun faced was sensitizing farmers to the adverse effects of chemical fertilizers. However, he overcame the hurdle by providing free organic inputs to farmers for experiments, gaining their trust in the process. He also found it difficult to get the required certification and approval for marketing agricultural inputs in the Benin Republic.

“The hardest part of being a young entrepreneur is that people are reluctant to trust you or take you seriously sometimes. Especially in French-speaking communities where the culture of youth entrepreneurship is not yet developed, basically it is the weight of culture and society. Beyond that, the heavy administrative formalities remain a burden for the youngest at their start,” he explained.

Ayihounoun sauntered through the daunting tasks, finding happiness, motivation, and satisfaction from the little successes he began to record.

“The first gratifying aspect was the satisfaction of our very first customers. It gives a feeling of pride and accomplishment to see a producer who is satisfied and very happy to have used our products. The second gratifying aspect is the awards we have received, especially in terms of grants that allow us to accomplish a lot and move forward,” he said.

AGRECO Sarl fertilizers are made with biowastes from livestock farms and agro-food processing units.

“It enriches the soil with natural nutrients, increases yield, and facilitates the conservation of crops. What differentiates it above all from the others is the fact that it has nematicidal and soil-improving properties because it is enriched with azadirachtin and helps fight against soil nematodes that attack the roots of plants. Beneficial for all soils, all crops, and all seasons. Above all, it increases the amount of humus on the soil, ideal for soils low in organic matter,” Ayihounoun explained.

Ayihounoun became a Tony Elumelu Alumni in 2019, and a 2021 Anzisha Prize Fellow in recognition of his entrepreneurial endeavors. Since founding AGRECO Sarl, Ayihounoun has impacted the lives of many farmers and farming communities in the Benin Republic and plans to industrialize the production process to maximize its impact on the development of unharmful and sustainable agricultural practices and inputs.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: May 8, 2023


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