The promotion of agricultural entrepreneurship among young people is one of CTA’s strategic priorities across all ACP regions, and more specifically in West Africa, a region of huge unemployment among under 30s, often resulting in major rural exodus and significant migratory movements on the continent, but also on its periphery. In this context, CTA has been working for several years on initiatives to develop youth employment and value-added creation as a priority for national and regional markets. As a result, CTA has decided to collaborate with the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) to adapt a one-stop agricultural services model for the Sahel region known as the Farmers’ Hub, initially developed in Bangladesh. This model, managed by private providers and offering a range of quality products and services to local small farmers, including the use of digital tools, contributes directly to the boosting of agricultural value chains.
In Senegal and Mali, market gardening plays an important role in ensuring food security and contributes to the fight against malnutrition. It also provides an opportunity for youth employment and women’s empowerment. But its growth remains hampered by inadequate levels of equipment and training of producers and difficulties in selling local products. To address these problems and boost this high-potential sub-sector, the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA), as part of its Agriservices programme, has developed a model of market gardening hubs.
This model, which has already been successfully implemented in Bangladesh, is now being fine-tuned in Senegal and needs to be adapted for Mali to respond better to local conditions and needs. The partnership between SFSA and CTA, which complements the ongoing collaboration on promoting youth entrepreneurship in the rice value chain in Mali and Senegal (PEJERIZ project), should accelerate this process, and help spread the model in West Africa to support an increasing number of young people setting themselves up as agripreneurs.
The Farmers’ Hub project will support the development of 22 individual farmers spread over 13 hubs. The model developed in Senegal differs from that of Mali.
- In Senegal, the hubs rely on farmers who already have the necessary skills to provide agricultural products and services that meet high quality standards in peri-urban areas (initially through nursery crop production, renting of agricultural equipment, and providing support and advice to producers). They receive support for the acquisition of equipment and training is provided to local producers.
- In Mali, agripreneurs will receive training over an eight-month cycle. Three 1,232 m² greenhouses will be installed in collaboration with Sidibé Agritechniques (SAT). These will be subdivided into units and will host 12 entrepreneurs who will be able to sell their production to SAT through a contractual production system and will also receive weekly technical support.
In both countries, commercial partnerships will be sought. In addition, the e-Farmers’ Hub digital application will improve the real-time management and monitoring of the hubs’ activities.
The pilot project launched in Senegal at the end of 2017, with the creation of three hubs each serving an urban market, has shown encouraging results. Resulting sales of seedlings have confirmed that the proposed business model is profitable for farmers, and that the new production methods, using a system of nursery trays, had many advantages.
The collaboration between CTA and SFSA on this new phase aims to create new job and income opportunities for young people living in peri-urban areas, especially women, as well as to improve the productivity and quality of market gardening production. More specifically, the project aims to create a total of 32 jobs (22 direct and 10 indirect) – half of them for women – and to train 2,600 producers (200 per Farmers’ Hub) on good agricultural practices.