Salim Dara

Ashoka Fellow
Benin,
Fellow Since 2013
Solidarité Rurale

Citation

This profile was prepared when Salim Dara was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
Through his organization, Solidarité Rurale (Rural Solidarity), Salim works to replace a broken agricultural education system by providing students with the practical experience, confidence, and resources they need to generate food and income from the natural resources around them.

Salim envisions a system of demonstration farms where students can learn through practical application rather than observation. His first demonstration farm (just outside Porto-Novo) uses an integrated model of produce, livestock, and fish farming with an attached market, to instill an appreciation for the natural connections and balance between ecosystems. Unlike the conventional method of education, in which students first assimilate concepts for evaluation and obtain appropriate certification before starting field experience, Salim provides learners with technical and field expertise with their studies, so they have the practical skills employers want and experience needed to start their own farming businesses.

Salim offers young people (both in and out of school) an opportunity to gain practical experience, training in agricultural entrepreneurship, and confidence to pursue self-employment. In line with his vision of hands-on education, Salim partners with vocational schools; and their second year students participate as interns at his demonstration farm. Students are trained to utilize their natural resources, gradually develop their farming operations, and grow a small business. Students are also prepared with skills in resource management, inventory management, and product marketing. In addition, they learn how to work together to facilitate access to capital and increase their chances of success.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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