BURKINA FASO – Strengthening partnerships to help women’s enterprises
Women and others involved in the food processing industry met in Bobo Dioulasso on Friday 8 December. There were some 20 people at the meeting, held in the town’s cultural centre. This workshop was for the women-led family food processing microentreprises innovation niche partnership, led by CDAIS facilitator Raymond Kiogo, and Adama Traoré from the national Burkina Faso Institute of Environment and Agricultural Research (INERA).
The aim was to raise the awareness of producers to the specific needs of women in the rural food processing industry. “There are many links between producers and input suppliers, but very few links between women in processing industries and producers,” says Adama Traoré, a researcher who has identified the needs of many women groups over the years, “but in all my years’ experience, this is the first time this has happens. It is amazing!”
Dr Traoré presented research results on a hybrid maize variety suited to women’s needs, but farmers did not agree with the high price of the seeds. “You say we need to pay FCFA 20,000 (€30) for hybrid seeds to plant an acre, when I can buy the seeds I need for half that” said Niampa Issouf from Sideradougou.
There were many rich exchanges between farmers. One from Djibasso where the climate is good for millet production explained to others about threshing machines, to replace a hard task that puts farmers off taking up millet production. Women also repeated their need of having quality seed to produce high quality couscous that is highly demanded.
For the women involved, this workshop was very important as it allowed them to meet with producers and create commercial contacts. Mrs Catherine Gnoula, responsible for a production unit in Bobo Dioulasso and part of a network of women led microenterprises said that this meeting helped them to create trusty relationships. “Trust between producers and women is very important for both sides. If we trust them and the quality of their products, we will pay them a good price. If they know we will buy their products, they can invest in their production to improve quality.”
Women tend to prefer to buy directly from producers rather than having to buy through intermediaries or from the market, as some cheat by adding rocks to the bags so they are heavier. Trust is crucial. Boly Alassane, agricultural technical officer in Bobo Dioulasso, points out the importance of his role as an intermediary between producers and women. “We rely on partners because as national structures, we do not have the budget to organize this type of workshop”. He recognizes the strength of the trust between different partners as very important, especially “as the government does not do that, NGOs do that kind of thing.”
“If women producers have a will, they will find a way, and this kind of meeting can happen again” concluded Boly. Adama Traoré will stay in touch with producers who are interested in getting seeds of the right varieties, producers and women will exchange information, and technical officers will pass on technical knowledge.