Reaping the Benefits of Organic Farming
Women farmers in Gapakh and Dinguiraye have much to be proud of. They are growing enough organic produce in their market gardens to feed their family and sell the surplus on the local market, increasing their income.
This success was made possible with support from Crossroads International and the Association pour la Promotion de la Femme Sénégalaise (APROFES) for building the organic farming capacity of women farmers in the two villages.
Developing organic farming not only helps protect the environment and ensure food security for the local population, it also helps improve the living conditions of women in Senegal by increasing their income and quality of life.
“I really learned a lot and I have to thank Crossroads International for that. … Everything I’ve done here (…) I can pass it all on to everyone at APROFES, and I will do my best.” Alimatou Badji, an agricultural technician and training officer at APROFES.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), women produce up to 80% of Africa’s food commodities. Many Senegalese women live in poverty; three out of every five live below the poverty line on less than $1 per day.
The economic empowerment of these women is critical, and for the women farmers in Gapakh and Dinguiraye, organic farming is part of the solution.
In 2016–2017, Crossroads International worked with the women farmers in both villages to improve their organic production yield.
As part of the volunteer cooperation program, volunteers were sent to Senegal and one APROFES staff member went to Quebec for an internship with our partners in that province. Crossroader Alimatou Badji, an agricultural technician and training officer at APROFES, spent time working and learning on an organic farm in the Eastern Townships in the fall of 2016. This enabled her to improve her organic farming and agricultural cooperative management skills so that she, in turn, can support other Senegalese women with their networking efforts and daily activities.
“I really learned a lot and I have to thank Crossroads International for that. … Everything I’ve done here—all the discussions, work, and activities—I can pass it all on to everyone at APROFES, and I will do my best,” said Alimatou. She worked closely with the team at the Jardins du Pied de Céleri, a multi stakeholder cooperative in Dunham and cooperative member Anne-Sophie Tardif says the learning goes both ways, “Sharing and helping each other are cooperative values. We all do the same kind of work, so we like to hear how things are done elsewhere.”
In addition to the private donors who support the project, the Québec sans frontières program from Quebec Ministry of International Relations and la Francophonie made it possible for groups of interns to help the women farmers with their organic farming.
Crossroads International volunteers also provided 65 women from both market gardens with training on a variety of topics including management, leadership, entrepreneurship and marketing, as well as organic farming techniques. France Corriveau did a two-month placement with APROFES. “I implemented some accounting tools so they could know if what they are doing is profitable,” the Canadian volunteer from St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Quebec explained.
All of these exchanges have helped the women farmers increase their knowledge of organic farming, the use of organic pesticides, and green fertilizers. In Dinguiraye, the women farmers now use natural products such as pepper, tea leaves, organic manure, leftover food and banana peels. Because of this project, the women farmers of Gapakh and Dinguiraye have become independent with respect to market gardening production. The project has also had a substantial impact on their efficiency, motivation, and drive, in addition to helping the 1,500 inhabitants of the two villages access fresh organic produce.