Engaging Women’s Producer Organizations in Senegal to #InspireInclusion

March 7, 2024

men and women gathered in a circle talking outside
The AgResults PM Team recently met with the Ndjoudien Women Producer Organization in the Kaffrine region of Senegal.

For the first time, a project has taken an interest in us women and involved us in activities reserved for men, which proves that you appreciate the added value that we women can bring to the development of our community.” -Representative of women’s producer organization in Senegal.

What does it mean to #InspireInclusion? As we celebrate International Women’s Day, it is essential to understand what inclusion is: A deliberate movement to seek different perspectives and bring them together because those differences are appreciated and valued. As the quote above suggests, when we prioritize inclusion, those who are being included notice.

In Senegal, women participate in key value chains, including groundnuts, millet, maize, cowpea, and cashews. Women producers oversee sales and household consumption but are often excluded from accessing storage services and finance. Compared to 14% of men, only 4% of women in Senegal have access to formal loans from financial institutions. And compared to 65% of men, only 28% of Senegalese women farmers own land.

Recognizing the opportunity to inspire inclusion, the AgResults Senegal Crop Storage Finance Challenge Project is working with women’s producer organizations (POs) to upgrade warehouse facilities and implement warehouse receipts. With modernized storage and access to finance, women across Senegal can better participate in vital economic activities.

Where Pay-for-Results and Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS) Meet

The AgResults project, managed by Connexus Corporation, uses a Pay-for-Results prize competition to encourage producer organizations to modernize warehouses and develop storage-based financing schemes for smallholder farmers. Monetary awards enable these ‘competitors’ to adopt Warehouse Receipt Systems (WRS), engage financial institutions, and strengthen relationships along the value chain.

When the project began in 2021, the team conducted a gender assessment study to ensure that its activities would increase sustainable access to storage services for men and women by considering their practical needs and strategic interests. Activities include providing training to bolster awareness and education among women POs, supporting women’s capacity building around warehouse upgrades and related technical assistance, and implementing warehouse receipts integrated with platforms that help women gain access to critical market information.

With access to WRS, women farmers can safely store their crops, avoid post-harvest losses, and wait to sell their crops once prices rise. Storage-based finance schemes also help strengthen relationships between POs and financial institutions, enabling farmers to use their crops as collateral for loans and increase their ability to invest in innovative technologies to improve their livelihoods. Given the difficulty that Senegalese women farmers face in accessing traditional forms of financing, these steps could add up to transformative change.

A Closer Look: Collaborating with Women’s Producer Organizations

During the project’s first cereal-legume season, which runs from October 2023 – June 2024, AgResults has been collaborating with several women-led POs. Even in this single season, the POs already recognize the benefits of WRS.

Seynabou Ndiaye from the GIE Soope Mame Diarra de Keur Mbouck, a producer organization based in Kaffrine with 53 women members, reflected on their participation in the AgResults competition.

“Women were not in the habit of storing their crops. They used to sell them at the market despite the low prices offered,” she said. “The project enabled local authorities to make a warehouse available to us. Thanks to [the prize], we upgraded it and gained access to bank financing through our integration in the WRS.”

Bineta Gueye from the Kaffine-based Gie. Diapalante Ligueye producer organization comprising 30 women members, had a similar view of the financial benefits that WRS has unlocked.

“The advantage of WRS is that we have access to bank financing under the production guarantee. It means we can wait for the market to evolve positively, increasing our sales,” she said. “This helps us take better care of our children’s food and education.”

Continuing to #InspireInclusion in Senegal

Over time, by using warehouse receipts, Senegalese women farmers could gain more control of household income and expand their decision-making power inside and outside the home. Credit from a receipts system would position women to access formal loans, use higher-quality inputs that drive further productivity increases, and invest in other income-generating activities. This would strengthen women’s sense of self-sufficiency and autonomy as they participate more in spaces historically dominated by men.

It will take sustained and collective effort far beyond the life of this prize competition to achieve a gender-equal world that is diverse and inclusive. But one thing is clear: The AgResults project is one step in the right direction.

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