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Senegal's market gardening as a means to a secure future

Farmers in a field. @Jean-Philipe Bourgeois
Thanks to the income Fatou earns by marketing her potatoes and other produce, not only can she meet her family's food needs, but her savings have also helped her diversity her income-generating activities.

Ndèye Fatou Ndao is a market gardener. Her father was the supervisor of a fertilizer plant. She is the oldest child of a large family, which she has supported financially for some thirty years. For almost twenty years, she has also borne the financial burden of her four children, after her husband became unemployable.

Ms. Ndao is well acquainted with Canada's international development assistance. In 1990, her women's group, Takku Liguey, joined the Union des Groupements des Producteurs et Productrices Maraichères de Meouane [Meouane union of market garden producers' groups]. She is Secretary General of the 4,000 member Union des Groupements and Secretary General of the 2,000 member Union Forestière. Ms. Ndao's involvement in these groups links her with other market garden professionals in Senegal, so she and her colleagues can work together, ask questions of each other and share information about their trade.

Like many women in Senegal, Fatou was not trained in market gardening. The training she received with support from Canada through the Food and Agriculture Organization's Strengthening Food Security in the Niayes and Casamance Regions project changed her life. Not only did Fatou learn how to increase her production, she better understood how to improve the quality of her produce, and how gain access to markets.

As a member of the Union des Groupements, Fatou is able to purchase the supplies she needs, such as quality seeds and fertilizer, at an affordable price. She currently grows potatoes and the seeds she buys from the Union are half the price she would pay on the local market. Fatou also benefitted from another local project supported by Canada, the Land Use and Economic Development of Niayes project that supported the construction of a potato warehouse where she can now store her goods. In 2008, through this same project, Fatou travelled to Canada, where she learned about how farmers' organizations in Canada operate.

Through the success of her market-gardening venture, Fatou not only meets her family's needs from the income she earns by marketing her potatoes and other produce, her savings have also allowed her to diversity her income-generating activities. She is now involved in processing grain, fruits and vegetables, and selling filao wood. Her current income is estimated at about $400 a month, more than twice what her husband used to earn. Thanks to market gardening, Fatou has been able to develop her potential as an entrepreneur and to pay for the school and university education of four children.

Grateful for the experience Canada has provided her, Fatou comments about how it has taught her to build her business, “Ever since we have been the recipients of Canada's development assistance, we have achieved results. Capacity building and professionalization have enabled us to benefit more from our economic activities and to increase our income.”

Stories like Fatou's and how she has improved the economic circumstances of her family are becoming more common in Senegal. Through the commitment to Senegal as one of its 20 countries of focus for international development, Canada is improving the ability of small-scale farmers to provide food for their families in addition to building a viable, productive business in the process.