Boosting the Onion Value Chain in Senegal
In Senegal, onion is the most consumed vegetable but annual production does not cover domestic demand. STARS, a program of ICCO Cooperation, brings together private sector actors, financial service providers, input suppliers, and producer organizations to connect 7,000 onion smallholders to formal markets.
Farmers learn to shift towards more sustainable production practices at Farmer Field Schools. On demonstration plots at the school, STARS showed that the combination of the right inputs with the best agricultural techniques enables higher yields.
Farmer Field Schools
The key success factor for the program is getting private sector actors to work closely with producer organizations and farmers. Idrissa Ba, program lead of STARS in Senegal: “We linked input suppliers such as Bejo and Elephant Vert with producers through so-called “ Farmer Field Schools” . These schools consist of a group of farmers, who learn how to shift towards more sustainable production practices. On demonstration plots at the school we showed to 600 farmers that the combination of the right inputs with agricultural techniques enables higher yields. By adopting best practices and using high quality seed and fertilizer, some farmers even doubled their yields. This helps to boost sales for the input suppliers.”
By linking input suppliers such as Bejo and Elephant Vert with producers, suppliers boosted their sales and farmers doubled their yields as a result of the high-quality inputs and agricultural best practices.
STARS also introduced longer cycle varieties, showed best practices in storage management, and provided better storage installations at the schools. These all help farmers to bring their onions to markets when prices are high.
In addition, STARS worked with financial institutions to develop financial products specifically for onion farmers.
This unique combination of developing both financial and non-financial services for smallholder farmers has facilitated a steep rise in yields and income for over 7,000 farmers working in the onion value chain.
The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program is a five-year program (2017-2021) implemented by ICCO Cooperation in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. Through a market systems development approach it focuses on improving access to finance and markets for 210,000 smallholders in Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Burkina Faso.