Aïssata Ba, has been market gardening for 30 years – hard, manual work for someone without modern infrastructure, tools, and agronomy skills. With our help, Aïssata acquired a solar powered pump on credit and developed a business plan to restructure her activity, evaluate profitability of crops, and define a route-to-market strategy.
Thanks to its fertile soil, favourable climate and plentiful supply of water for irrigation, the small village of Lompoul Sur Mer in the Niayes area of north-west Senegal, is an ideal location for market gardening.
Practiced throughout the year, market gardening is the primary income source for many women in the village. Aïssata Ba, 45 year old mother of 7, has been involved in market gardening for 30 years. This activity has provided her with financial and social autonomy, since her husband died.
However, market gardening means hard manual work for the women who practice it, as they lack modern infrastructure, the financial means to acquire mechanised tools, and technical and agricultural skills to modernise practices.
Unable to recruit agricultural workers to support her, Aïssata manages her 0.15 hectare plot with her two sons. The work involves preparing seedbeds, planting, removing weeds, spreading organic manure and irrigating, all by hand, leaving her with very little time to take care of her children, or sell fish – her other economic activity.
For years Aïssata had been drawing water from her well manually, using one rope and two buckets. Her two sons help her irrigate: “We were constantly moving between the plot and the basin, and it was a very tiresome, inefficient job,” Aïssata explained. She found that these challenges severely limited her production capability.
In June 2018, Energy 4 Impact selected Aïssata to take part in an economic empowerment programme giving female entrepreneurs involved in farming, dairy production, agro-transformation and shop keeping, access to renewable energy technologies and mentoring to help them improve their productivity, income and livelihood. In the Niayes zone, Energy 4 Impact has been focussing on market gardening, helping women-led entrepreneurs and cooperatives to acquire solar-powered pumps and provided them with business, technical and financial mentoring.
Aïssata received coaching to develop a business plan to restructure her activity, evaluate profitability of crops, and define a clear route-to-market strategy. She was also introduced to a supplier of solar-powered pumps, offering partial credit on the equipment. Energy 4 Impact helped Aïssata raise 50% of the cost of the pump and PV panel – the contribution required by the supplier in order to provide the equipment on credit. The remaining 50% is due to be paid over an 18-month period in 3 instalments, using the money that Aïssata generates from the increased profitability of her business.
Armed with new knowledge, skills and tools, Aïssata decided to anticipate the onion growing season this year, in order to gain a competitive advantage on the other local producers. And when her onions were the first to arrive on the market, Aïssata confidently sold them at a premium price, making a nice profit.
Energy 4 Impact’s Business Development Support Coordinator, Jean Cesar Ndione said:
Energy 4 Impact continues to support Aïssata with ongoing business and financial mentorship, and provides technical guidance on the use and maintenance of the solar equipment and on modern agronomic practices.