Permaculture, Ancestral Wisdom, and Corporate Culture

Permaculture, as an ecological design system, aims to create sustainable agricultural environments by drawing inspiration from nature. What is often less recognized is that many permaculture practices have roots in the traditional knowledge of indigenous communities worldwide. In West Africa, ancestral agricultural practices offer a wealth of knowledge that not only respects the environment but also aligns perfectly with permaculture principles. The PerrineKope farm, located on the Danyi Plateau, perfectly illustrates this synergy between tradition and permaculture.

Traditional Agricultural Practices in West Africa

Indigenous African communities have developed agricultural systems that are not only sustainable but also resilient to environmental challenges. Here are some examples of these practices, illustrated by the activities at the PerrineKope farm:

1. Terraced Farming

In the mountainous regions of West Africa, such as the Danyi Plateau, terraced farming is an ancient technique.

It involves creating terraces on slopes to prevent soil erosion and optimize water use.

This method also helps retain moisture and reduce the risk of landslides, aligning with the permaculture principle of careful resource management.

Image de culture en terrasse à PerrineKope favorisant la rétention des sols et le management de l'eau à PerrineKope/Image of terraced farming on the Danyi Plateau, preventing soil erosion and optimizing water use in West Africa.
la permaculture et l'agroforesterie se conjuguent dans un champs de bananiers, caféiers, maïs, manioc à PerrineKope/Image of an agroforestry system at the PerrineKope farm on the Danyi Plateau, combining trees and agricultural crops to improve biodiversity and reduce soil erosion.

2. Agroforestry Systems


Agroforestry is a common practice in West Africa.

This practice combines trees with agricultural crops, providing shade, reducing soil erosion, and improving biodiversity.

On the Danyi Plateau, the PerrineKope farm integrates trees such as banana and coffee plants, as well as shrubs like cassava, with maize fields, creating a favorable environment for crops.

This approach reflects the permaculture principle of integrating rather than segregating.

3. Traditional Water Management

Indigenous communities in West Africa have developed ingenious water management systems, such as zay (or zaï).

Zay are holes dug into the ground to capture and retain water, sheltering newly planted shrubs at the end of the dry season, thus optimizing water use until the rain arrives.

This traditional technique aligns with the permaculture principle of valuing renewable resources.

Plantation grenadier dans un trou d'eau pour gérer la ressource en attendant l'arrivée des pluies
Dindons et cabris sous couvert de la forêt fourragent au pied des bananiers à PerrineKope/Image of integrated livestock at the PerrineKope farm on the Danyi Plateau finding shelter under the trees

4. Integrated Livestock

Another common ancestral practice in West Africa, particularly at the PerrineKope farm, is integrated livestock.

Small livestock, such as chickens, turkeys, and goats, are raised in synergy with the agroforestry system.

For example, animals provide manure to enrich the soil, and in return, they benefit from crop residues as food and forest trees as shelter.

This integration of livestock and agroforestry allows for optimal resource use and minimizes waste, reflecting the permaculture principle of creating closed systems where each element has multiple functions.

Aligning with Permaculture Principles

Traditional African practices demonstrate a profound understanding of the ecosystem and natural cycles. Here is how they align with permaculture principles:

Observe and Interact

Indigenous farmers carefully observe their environment and interact with it to make the most of available natural resources without depleting them. This attentive observation is at the heart of permaculture.

Use and Value Renewable Resources

Water management techniques, such as zay, terraced farming, and agroforestry show an efficient and sustainable use of renewable resources. Communities ensure that each element of their agricultural system has multiple functions, optimizing resource use.

Apply Self-Regulation and Accept Feedback

Traditional African agricultural systems are designed to be resilient and self-regulating. Practices such as terraced farming, integrated livestock, and crop rotation allow soils to regenerate naturally, accepting environmental feedback to adjust agricultural methods.

How CRESCAM Integrates Permaculture Principles into Businesses

At CRESCAM, we draw inspiration from the practices implemented at the PerrineKope farm to help businesses integrate permaculture principles into their existing corporate culture. Our approach includes several key steps:

Detailed Diagnostic

We start with a detailed diagnostic of the existing corporate culture. This allows us to understand current practices, challenges, and opportunities to effectively and customarily integrate permaculture principles.

Custom Design

Based on the diagnostic, we design tailor-made solutions that align with the company's values and goals. We draw on traditional African practices to propose sustainable and resilient strategies.

Co-Construction of Solutions

We work closely with our partners to co-construct solutions. This collaborative approach ensures that new practices are well integrated and accepted at all organizational levels.

Training and Awareness

To ensure successful adoption, we offer digital resources, awareness sessions, and workshops, even coaching. These programs are designed to educate employees on permaculture principles and their application in the corporate context.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Finally, we implement regular monitoring and evaluation of progress. This allows us to measure the impact of new practices and adjust strategies as needed to ensure continuous improvement.

To get an overview of what permaculture is, click here, and to discover how you can integrate these practices into your own business, contact us.