This Missing Middle Initiative (MMI) pilot project in Tambacounda and Kedougou regions in east Senegal supports two producer organizations, l’Association des producteurs de la vallée du fleuve Gambie (APROVAG) and Yacare Niani Wulli (YNW), to strengthen rural people’s livelihoods for sustainable economic development. The project will increase governance, production and management capacities of smallholder producers; improve women’s participation and bargaining power in key decision-makings in rural areas; reinforce rural entrepreneurship initiatives initiated by women and the youth; increase commercial contracts between the POs and the private sector that benefits each actor and integrate POs’ economic activities in the food value chain; and strengthened financing capacities of smallholder producers through the POs.
Bananas are in great demand in Senegal’s cities and provide an income-generating opportunity for smallholder farmers. But, they require a lot of water to grow, so the drought and dry periods farmers regularly face can seriously stress the plants unless irrigation is readily available. When ample healthy banana crops grow, farmers lack disease-free planting materials to harvest them. This project aims to create more-sustainable banana production, thus boosting incomes and livelihoods, through support to producer organizations. In 2020, the project received additional funding for a medium- to long-term responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, used to procure and distribute inputs to banana producers who had suffered losses caused by the restrictive measures during the peak of the pandemic period in 2020 and to strengthen producer organizations’ management information systems and develop their business models for productive investment to improve producer marketing capacity.
As of December 2021, the project has reached 1,685 people, including 979 women, and members of producer organizations. The members of partner producer organization APROVAG have seen increases in thee productivity of their banana plantations as a result of 7,000 renewed vitro plants in genetic material, distributed among producers with improved organic inputs. The project also disseminated two water pumping stations with good agriculture practices. A preliminary assessment shows that 47 producers have resumed their production activities on a 12.5 hectare plot, with yields increasing substantially.