Senegal: A fruit and vegetable processing unit renovated in Ndame Lo

Date: Wednesday, May 16, 2018

After four months of hard work and with the support of UN Women, the women of the Ndam Lo Women's Promotion Group (GPF) finally have their fruit and vegetable processing unit renovated. Hence, they are motivated to increase their production to meet the marketing standards and demand.

Women at Ndam Lo GPF slicing coconut into strips
Women at Ndam Lo GPF slicing coconut into strips

Ndame Lo GPF splits 500 women among 12 villages. The GPF has 7 hectares of land for collective agricultural use in Djender (Thiès), the location of the Ndame Lo area, where they grow marketable agricultural produce. Fruits such as baobab, mango, okra, papaya, lemon, coconut, banana are processed by the factory into finished products like jams, pastes/sauces, dry fruits and juices.

The processing factory which was inaugurated in 1994 has been shut down for almost a year as a result of financial difficulties. The president of the Ndame Lo GPF,  Adji Fatou Kane explains: "The factory is no longer working because of the debt problems that we have not been able to resolve. Everything had to be rebuilt, and the tools which were old needed replacement ''.

Temporary acceptance ceremony of the renovation
Temporary acceptance ceremony of the renovation

''UN Women's support gives us hope of getting back to work and demonstrating our commitment to promoting and empowering women in our community," she continued.

It was indeed with great emotion that the president of the GPF of Ndam Lo received the keys of the renovated factory during the provisional ceremony of resumption of work. At 65, she continues to show her determination to promote the development of women in the area.

This financial support from UN Women falls within the framework of the implementation of the Phare Programme "Agriculture for Women and Sustainable Development" (AGRIFED) with the intervention of the Regional Development Agency (ARD) of Thiès, the supervisory agency of works and the Agency for the execution of public works (Agetip) project owner.

The Director of Laboratoires Bio essence Mame Khary Diène, winner of several awards for her entrepreneurial spirit and her commitment to the promotion of women, has on her part committed to supporting the women of Ndam Lo to better market their product through quality packaging.

During a packaging training session for the group, Mame Khary Diène maintained that dried fruit yields were quite low, especially for papaya and bananas, she said the best yield is that of coconut. It therefore practical that coconut processing be given priority.

The support of UN Women has also enabled some GPF members to receive accounting training to improve the management of funds. It is indeed what these women missed because before the renovation of the unit, there was no visibility on the financial movements" remarks the director of the ARD of Thiès Chérif Diagne.

The rehabilitated processing unit
The rehabilitated processing unit

In Senegal, macro-economic balance is strongly linked to agriculture, which is also the main source of employment. Senegal's agricultural sector supports nearly 755,000 agricultural households. The workforce in agriculture represents 53% of the active population and generates 16% of GDP on average according to Rokhaya Gaye (UN Women)

According to her, Senegalese women are very present in market gardening and rice growing. The horticultural sector is now classified as a priority in Senegal's growth strategy. Indeed, the State's objective, through the Senegal Emergent Plan (PSE), is to position Senegal as a major exporter of fruit and vegetables with high added value,'' she says.

It is therefore a new start for this group, which will now keep a daily register of the activities that they will start the next day.  Our wish is to increase production from 50 to 500 kilograms of processed fruit per week and market them internationally. We have been trained for this, so nothing prevents us from achieving these results and even go beyond them." said President Adji Fatou Kane.