AgriFED: UN Women and the BNP Paribas Group promote the economic empowerment of women through climate resilient agriculture


Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director WCARO and women from REFAN during the field visi. Photo: UN Women/ Yulia Panevina

Since March 8, 2019, UN Women Senegal  has been partnering with BNP Paribas for the implementation of the “Support for Women in Agriculture and Sustainable Development -PAF/AgriFeD” Project. The aim is to provide economic empowerment through climate resilient agriculture in northern Senegal, located in the Sahel, one of the parts of the world most affected by global warming.

The rice that these women farmers grow is an extremely important commodity for Senegal as it is part of the government's policy in favor of food self-sufficiency.

In Senegal, women represent slightly more of 50% of the country's total population and 70% of the workforce in rural areas. However, disparities between men and women persist in terms of access to factors of production (land, inputs, training, etc.) which tends to severely limit the development of the sector. In a recent study, the FAO estimates that if women had the same access as men to productive resources, they could increase current agricultural yields by 20 to 30%.


The UN Women AgriFeD program aims by 2021 to empower 30,000 Senegalese women farmers who are remote from the banking system, by promoting their access to:


• Ownership and control of agricultural land;

• Technologies and training to increase their productivity while improving their environmental practices;

• Financing by training entrepreneurs to apply for loans;

• Value-added markets by training entrepreneurs to learn more innovative business practices (packaging, labeling, etc.).


The program represents a major innovation in terms of financial inclusion. UN Women provides technical support to the 30,000 members of the Network of Women Farmers in the North (REFAN) headed by Ms. Korka DIAW, with a view to promoting their eligibility for credit specially adapted to their needs and offered by BNP Paribas / BICIS, in collaboration with Baobab Group. 


From 12 to 17 October 2020, UN Women undertook a  field trip to monitor the pilot phase of loan implementation in partnership with BNP Paribas / BICIS, Baobab, DER (Delegation to rapid entrepreneurship), sectoral ministries (Gender and Agriculture) and members of REFAN in the project intervention areas. The objective of the mission was to draw lessons from the first phase of the credit operation with the beneficiaries and to plan a second instalment of the credit (to support marketing) with the beneficiaries and the various agencies of the Baobab Group network, which ensures loan distribution on site.


Papa Amadou Sarr, Managing Director of Fast Entrepreneurship of women and youth with the women of REFAN

"Ultimately, their ability to forge structured relationships with quality financial and commercial partners will allow REFAN's farmers to take further steps in terms towards their autonomy and the development of their activity. “We are proud to participate alongside UN Women in this decisive project in terms of food self-sufficiency and social progress", said Mr. Antoine Sire, Head of Company Engagement at BNP Paribas.


Over the past year and a half, beneficiaries could appreciate the change that the program has brought to rice-growing activities. Thanks to training in cultivation techniques and financial support from BNP Paribas, the women members of REFAN were able to buy the necessary inputs and sow at the right time, which made it possible to triple yields.


"Today, with the arrival of drones, women farmers will finally be able to monitor their plots without having to cover hectares on foot. Tomorrow, their success could inspire other initiatives and change the situation in other regions of the world”, said Ms. Oulimata Sarr, UN Women Regional Director for West and Central Africa.