Sichem-Sime : a 100% local market

"What gives a special cachet to the SICHEM market is the quality of the products on offer. ", Dzamah Antoine
By Vert-Togo 

Mr. Antoine Kodzo DZAMAH, Founder of the market of SICHEM, PHOTO CREDIT AGRIDIGITALE

Since its launch last August, the 100% local agricultural produce market has been alive every day except Sundays at the Sichem centre of excellence for agricultural entrepreneurship training in Dzogblakopé (about 30 km north-east of Lomé).  The situation has changed, this market is now in full swing every weekend.  To learn more about this new approach, Vert-Togo met with the promoter Mr. Antoine Kodzo DZAMAH.  We discussed with him the issues related to the change of the market's animation hours and the particularity of the market. Exchange ...

Vert-Togo: Could you introduce yourself ?

Antoine DZAMAH : I am Antoine Kodzo DZAMAH, President of two organisations promoting this market. They are: the SICHEM Group and the Association of Rural Development Groups (AGRO DR).

Vert-Togo: Why did you think of a market that opens every weekend?

A D: In fact, since August 15, 2020, the date of its launch, the market has been open every day of the week from 9 am to 6.30 pm. Until this weekend, the market was mainly selling Sichem products.  People come to the market to sell or to buy. We wanted to increase the number of products and make SICHEM SIME known to a greater number of consumers.

So we set ourselves two main objectives. First is to open this market to all those who share our vision of organic/natural production, including our young trained agricultural entrepreneurs who have come with their products. Secondly, it is to open the Sichem restaurant, a catering space that offers a menu essentially based on products from the SICHEM farm and our terroir to our compatriots.

Vert-Togo: What makes this market special?

A D: What gives a special cachet to the SICHEM market is the quality of the products offered there. Natural, organic products. Sichem guarantees the products that are offered, because it doesn't come to sell whoever wants to in this market. Only those who have adopted environmentally friendly agro-ecological practices can come and sell their products.  The theme we have chosen for the opening of the market to other products reflects the fundamental orientation given: "SICHEM SIME, a market for healthy and sustainable food".

This market wants to promote organic/natural products and to encourage all producers who take this path. We have been training young people and farmers to adopt agro-ecological practices for several years now, but their products are not being bought at the right price in other markets. And consumers had no guarantee of the quality of the products. Something had to be done to encourage them. The promoters  want to gradually create a popular quality label.

Vert-Togo: Are the products accessible to the Togolese population?

 A D: SICHEM SIME is first and foremost at the service of the Togolese population. The products are accessible to everyone. We promote local products (vegetables, fruits, meats, locally processed products such as syrups, juices, liqueurs, herbal teas, jams, tomato and aubergine purées, etc.). We want to encourage our compatriots to consume seasonal products because this is part of the concept of sustainable food.

Vert-Togo: Why does the market only open at weekends?

A D: As I said before, The market is now opened every day. But as you know, each market has dedicated days for both buyers and sellers to come in.  The weekends are the busiest days. it offers the possibility of remote purchasing and delivery. For the moment the city of Lomé is the only one concerned for deliveries.

Vert-Togo: Apart from the market, what other facilities does Sichem offer?

Firstly, It is above all a rural development centre, particularly in terms of support for village communities and training in community management, the provision of reforestation plants in villages and production chains: tomatoes, charcuterie, manioc, small ruminants and organic market gardening.

Secondly, we offer training and capacity building to youth and adults in the field of agricultural entrepreneurship; its farm school is an inspirational place for people who want to be entrepreneurial.

Thirdly, we offer a pleasant setting for work (seminars, workshops, recollections) and rest (retreats, entertainment.) in a natural environment. It is with this in mind that its brand new restaurant offers a simple but rich menu based on products from the farm and its main partners.

Fourthly, we promote eco-construction using local sustainable materials by offering low-cost stabilised earth construction and training for young people.

Finally, through its "Quality Education" sector, we are involved in the promotion and enhancement of local cultural heritage, citizenship training for young people, and education for sustainable food.

Interview by Hector Nammangue.