Connexus: Localizing Horticulture Market Development in Senegal

Feb 11 2022

A Focus on Building Local Capacity 

Calm and attentive, Fatou Kiné Diabang has a reserved attitude and keen business sense. After obtaining a master’s degree in Human Resource Management, she became a producer in the horticultural sector and founded Sénégal Progresse in 2016.

Sénégal Progresse is a local horticultural company that began with cultivating peppers and selling them directly in commercial markets. Fatou Kiné noted the post-harvest losses of fruits and vegetables produced by smallholder farmers. To reduce losses, she organized farmers to sell their harvests directly to large-scale retailers, such as Auchan and Carrefour, as well as local hotels and restaurants. 

USAID’s Feed the Future Nafoore Warsaaji brought together small producers and producer groups in the Niayes region of Senegal and facilitated marketing contracts with Sénégal Progresse. Connexus – a small, woman-owned company — implements Nafoore Warsaaji, a three-year, $6.5 million activity, which employs local market-based approaches to link Senegalese vegetable and fruit farmers with market information and proven technologies.

Fatou Kiné believes that the collaboration between Sénégal Progresse and Nafoore Warsaaji was very “fruitful and of great importance.” This partnership not only created new business opportunities for her company with farmers and distributors, but also made it possible to pool resources. Fatou reported a positive impact on the quality and quantity of horticultural production, thus enabling Sénégal Progresse to diversify its agricultural product offering by adding potatoes and onions to its product portfolio. Through its collaboration with Nafoore Warsaaji, Senegal Progresse has increased product distribution from 12 tons to 20 tons per month. 

“The collaboration has also brought about big changes to the company structure thanks to the training courses,” says Fatou Kiné. During its early years, Sénégal Progresse had only two employees; today it has 12 permanent employees. Thanks to Nafoore Warsaaji, the team is receiving training on Sage software, which improved their capacity to manage the company’s accounting and daily data flows.

Next, Feed the Future Senegal Nafoore Warsaaji plans to support Sénégal Progresse in the digitization of its services and investment through development of an e-commerce to coordinate the flow of rural production to urban consumption markets.

Fostering Local Solutions

Connexus is working with Feed the Future Senegal Kawolor activity to link women farmers to input suppliers, last mile entrepreneurs, off-takers, transporters, and buyers, fostering partnerships and promoting access to finance up and down the horticultural value chain. 

By the end of three years, Nafoore will help 30,000 farmers access new technologies, increase gross margins, horticultural sales, and private sector investment in Senegal’s horticulture value chains. Connexus is facilitating local solutions to the organization, logistics, and governance of horticulture value chains through technical assistance, access to finance, new technologies, and deals between end-market buyers and growers. Through the COVID lockdown, Nafoore Warsaaji has continued to foster local solutions to strengthening horticultural production to market systems through:

  • Working with the La Banque Agricole (LBA), the Senegalese National agricultural bank, to introduce professional collateral management at major horticultural trading centers, allowing producer organizations and aggregators to use their stocks of onions and potatoes as collateral to secure credit lines. As a result, LBA has extend more than $1.1 million in credit to seven major horticultural buyers. In addition, these loans indirectly benefited more than 600 smallholder farmers and helped avoid trade disruptions during the COVID-19 lockdown. 
  • Facilitating a $300,000 co-investment with input supplier Holland Greentech (HGT) to create 20 new demonstration farms to engage 30,000 Kawolor smallholders. These farms are training smallholders to use advanced technologies to meet the quality standards of buyers in Dakar while also serving as a sales and demonstration platform to showcase and sell HGT products and services.
  • Facilitating contracts for 120 MT of horticultural produce to be grown by Kawolor producer groups for Dakar-based buyers for the 2020/2021 winter season.
  • Helping the Caisse Nationale Assurance Agricole du Sénégal (CNAAS) insurance company to pilot new horticulture-focused insurance products, including heat-indexed crop insurance, to reduce the risk for small farmers in commercial horticultural production. 
  • Working with private firm Beyseddo to increase efficiencies in the onion and potato value chains by improving packaging and marketing through regional collection hubs. This private sector engagement is catalyzing more than $620,000 of co-investment from Beyseddo in addition to a loan of $1.2M from La Banque Agricole.
  • Working with La Banque Agricole to create an invoice financing product to improve cash flows among small horticultural businesses by allowing them to access credit based on presentation of verified invoices awaiting payment.