Linking Potato Farmers in Ethiopia to Senselet
Cowpea farmers in Senegal often lack access to quality inputs, best agricultural practices and access to finance and remain stuck in subsistence farming. In this blog, read how the STARS program of ICCO Cooperation supports cowpea farmers in Senegal to increase their cowpea production and get linked to markets.
Cowpea improves soil fertility and helps to increase the yields of cereal crops when grown in rotation. It is climate-resilient as it doesn’t need much water to grow. But despite the advantages, farmers lack access to finance to invest in their farms. STARS in Senegal works with four MFIs to develop specific financial products that fit the needs of cowpea farmers. Their clients now have access to four types of products, depending on their profile and needs (agri-group loan, agri-individual loan, warehouse lending, and cowpea value chain credit). So far, more than 3,500 cowpea farmers have benefited from these products.
STARS also provides better services for 4,000 members of four producer organizations. These include improved cowpea seed multiplication, facilitating access to credit, and product marketing through access to training, coaching, and planning.
Members of these producer organizations participated in Farmer Field Schools. STARS introduced new cowpea production methods to the schools, which helped the farmers to increase the quality and quantity of their produce.
Farmer Amy Ndiaye in Tivaoune was more than happy to be part of the trainings at the Farmer Field Schools.
“This year was the first time I have farmed commercially. Thanks to the quality inputs received through our producer organization and the agricultural training I received, I was able to cultivate 1/2 hectare of cowpeas. I will sell 80% of my harvest directly to the producer organization CORAPP, while using 20% for household consumption. During one of the trainings on conservation best practices, I learned new recipes for cowpeas. Did you know that you can even brew coffee using cowpea?”
STARS linked these producer organizations and their members to the highly successful market price information system called Mlouma (this means “online market” in Wolof). This allowed farmers to get connected to more buyers and receive the latest agricultural best practices for their cowpea crops, as well as weather alerts sent to them by SMS.
Lastly, STARS connected the producer organizations to the Senegalese Bakers Federation, the national union grouping over 100 bakeries. The bakeries appreciated the quantity and quality increase of the cowpea farmers and committed to include at least five percent of cowpea flour in their bread making.
The results? Creating these strategic linkages has opened up huge market opportunities for cowpea producers, as well as for Senegalese consumers, who will enjoy their locally produced, protein-rich bread.
The Strengthening African Rural Smallholders (STARS) program is a five-year program (2016-2021) 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.