Though women traditionally account for the majority of postharvest processing responsibilities, they often have limited technical support and lack access to resources that help them grow their own agribusinesses. In Senegal, we recently partnered with 30 women’s groups to provide postharvest training and support. With our gender-inclusive training, women are able to expand their skills and business knowledge, helping them to overcome hurdles so they may develop their food processing enterprises and reach more customers and clientele with nutrient-rich products.
There are countless systemic challenges women throughout Africa face that prevent them from breaking out of the poverty cycle. Mechanizing their work saves them an incredible amount of time and drudgery, but this is only one aspect of our holistic approach to supporting economic opportunities.
Recent training sessions were held with women’s farmer groups from several villages throughout the Kaffrine and Kaolack regions of Senegal, reaching 244 women. Participants learned how to process millet into flour using Bountifield’s multi-crop grinder as well as produce other types of value-added products. Trainers covered topics on hygienic best practices for food production, preservation and packaging products. Additional training focused on entrepreneurial subjects, including how to identify business opportunities, selecting the right business model and reaching more customers. All training sessions were interactive and provided a platform for women to contribute their own expertise and participate in hands-on demonstrations.
Over the years, we have seen farmers use the grinder to create flour and other types of value-added products such as millet cakes, breads and infant formula. Some farmer groups go on to find market-demand in their regions that help increase their income and develop their agribusinesses, whether through partnerships with local organizations working to reduce malnutrition or increasing their customer base at markets where their products might not otherwise be readily available. We continue to follow up with groups with whom we have partnered, receiving updates on their progress while learning about other bottlenecks they may encounter when growing their businesses. With this feedback, we help provide additional guidance and support to find ways to overcome these challenges.
Our current work in Senegal is part of a larger project supported by USAID. Over the next year, our plan includes continued partnerships with these and other women’s groups to further strengthen their capacity to become thriving, self-sustaining enterprises. At Bountifield, we believe that accessible resources for rural farmers and entrepreneurs is a valuable investment for sustainable economic growth. Our solutions go beyond delivering tools to providing a variety of postharvest support services and accelerating entrepreneurial opportunities for the women with whom we work. By utilizing a multi-faceted approach, we can close the gender gap in African agribusiness as a key strategy for reducing hunger and poverty.