At the head of the Save Our Agriculture start-up, Flavien Kouatcha has been offering devices for both private and professional customers since 2015.
“Did you feed the fish well? Have you changed the water every day? Did you encounter a problem with the kit? “. In a bright smile, Laura Tetuh patiently answers questions from Flavien Kouatcha. “The only difficulty I encounter is at the bottom. I do not know how often to change the water, “admits the young woman.
On this sunny morning, Flavien Kouatcha provides after-sales service at Laura, one of her many clients who lives in a building located in the heart of Douala, the economic capital of Cameroon. The 27-year-old is the head of Save Our Agriculture, a start-up founded in 2015 specializing in aquaponics, a field of modern agriculture that produces vegetables and fish in a single system. – the aquaponic kit – without using chemical fertilizers.
Between 80 000 and 250 000 F CFA the kit
Flavien and his team of eight employees make kits for individuals and for professionals. Their prices vary respectively between 80,000 CFA francs (122 euros) and 250,000 CFA francs (380 euros). These kits have two levels. The upper part has a substrate in which there are small white pebbles where are poured vegetable seeds and condiments. The lower level consists of a tray filled with water where the fish are, equipped with an electric pump that sends the water to the substrate. The two parts are connected by three small wooden sticks attached to the two containers.
“When the water reaches the level of the substrate tray, it contains nutrients from fish,” says Flavien. These nutrients are naturally aspirated by the plants that purify the water that enters the fish tank.
Article reserved for our subscribers Read also COP22: “The adaptation of African agriculture” is “a priority”
Since its official launch in March, more than 150 kits have already been sold in Cameroon. With each delivery, Flavien and his team insist on two important points. “We’re asking customers to run the pump for twelve hours a day,” he says. And place the kit for at least six hours in a sunny or bright place to promote photosynthesis. ”
Flavien Kouatcha’s interest in aquaponics came by chance. In 2012, this young man passionate about agriculture grows potatoes in his village, west of Cameroon. The harvest is important but, lacking means of transport, it loses a large amount that rots. Unhappy, he thinks of a method that will allow him to save his crops. The idea of aquaponics germinates in his mind. He resigned from his position in a multinational company where he received more than one million CFA francs a month (1525 euros) to live his passion. Started with a capital of nearly four million, it weighs after seven months thirteen million CFA francs.
Seduce the passionate about the environment
“It’s a step-by-step approach that has been adopted to deal with local constraints, both investors and clients facing solutions often deemed new and immature,” he believes.
How to seduce a young man, long accustomed to traditional agriculture and who dreams only of owning acres of land? In addition, kits are not available to all. “Aquaponics is not just an advantage, producing in an urban space. It also allows for productions two to three times larger than in traditional agriculture. So, even if a country was full of vests of fertile land, aquaponics would have its place, “slice the one that also appeal to environmental enthusiasts, aquaponics significantly reducing water consumption and carbon emissions .
Read also Africa 4 Tech, a summit in Marrakech for innovation of the continent
On November 4, Flavien Kouatcha won the Digital Champion of Agriculture award at the Africa 4 Tech conference (of which Le Monde Afrique was a partner), a platform of talents and an international network of entrepreneurs, scientists, developers, researchers, held as a prelude to COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco. A reward that reinforces his ambition: to train more young people to master aquaponics by giving them rudiments on the mode of production, how to maintain systems, etc.
On 17 December, the young man intends to inaugurate the first professional kit unit, a cabin of almost 40 m² on two levels, which works on the same principle as individual kits, but allows to produce larger volumes.
“The future is very bright,” Flavien Kouatcha smiled. The International Organization for Migration wants us to work together to provide sufficient and decent food for immigrants in northern Cameroon. We also have requests for aquaponic units abroad. ”
In her apartment, Laura Tetuh does not take her eyes off her six catfish that swim in the kit on a table. “Soon, the fish will be big. For that, I have to change their water every day, “she says.
Josiane Kouagheu (contributor World Africa, Douala)