Farmers in the West African state of Benin have benefited from a pioneering technical training project, hosted recently by CNH Industrial, in association with local Case IH importer Sonama, designed to boost agricultural and social development in the country through efficient use of agricultural machinery.

In Benin’s predominantly rural society, agriculture supports over 70 percent of the population, accounting for 35 percent of GDP and 80 percent of export income. While cotton is the principal cash crop, maize, cashews, shea nuts, coffee, palms, pineapples and cocoa also contribute to exports. Benin’s government aims to diversify its agricultural production, but the country remains underdeveloped, and its economy is underpinned by subsistence agriculture. Rising demand for food production and economic growth mean Benin needs to adopt advanced farming techniques and sustainability best practices to develop a modern and sustainable agriculture industry.

Based in the southern Benin city of Ouidah, SONAMA (a French acronym for the National Society for Agricultural Mechanisation) is a public company established by the local government to modernise the country’s agricultural sector by providing functional farming machinery and equipment. Nicolas Teysseyre, a CNH Industrial technical service specialist working in the Middle East and Africa markets, was commissioned as a trainer to provide specialist guidance to around 30 young trainees on getting the best from equipment recently supplied to SONAMA, including Case IH Farmall JX45T, Farmall JX90M and Farmall JX110 tractors.

“On my first trip to Benin in March this year, I assisted SONAMA by teaching users how to assemble the semi-knockdown (SKD) tractor units supplied,” explains Nicolas.

“On a second visit I then trained a local team on machine use, routine maintenance and the fundamentals of Case IH equipment procedures.”

He began the programme by giving the trainees simple exercises to identify their knowledge levels, before introducing Case IH products, with emphasis on the tractors acquired by SONAMA.

“The trainees were mostly young school-leavers working in their first jobs,” Nicolas explains.

“Benin has one of the world’s youngest populations, and young groups are eager to learn, and don’t shy away from practical, hands-on work. I was impressed by their abundant energy and enthusiasm.”

Instruction included unit identification, controls and Instruments, operating instructions, transport and working operations. In addition, the group studied assembly and production procedures for SKD (semi knocked-down) and completely-built unit (CBU) tractors, maintenance operations, storage and safety instructions, quality controls and electrical information and recommendations. Later in the training course the trainees were schooled on the finer points of after-sales, including the reception and delivery of a new unit (designated quality representative/DQR process), warranties and dealer portals.

“I was really impressed by the trainees’ hard work and dedication throughout the course,” says Nicolas. “They were deservedly awarded training certificates at the end of the programme. I have no doubt that these trainees will do their country proud in advancing the ideal to make Benin one of Africa’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products.”