adhy Ciss used to sell processed millet in the market, taking the raw grains and grinding them into flour or cooking ready pieces, but sales weren’t great. Without professional packaging, no one in the larger towns was buying the millet from her processing center in Toubakouta, her community in Fatick region, Senegal. But professional packing was hard to find for her small processing center.
“I had serious needs to access packaging. Even worse, the existing packaging on the market is made of plastic and not biodegradable,” Kadhy said.
Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture-funded Millet Business Services Project (MBSP)—which NCBA CLUSA is implementing in four regions in Senegal—Kadhy learned to make her own, local packaging out of paper and other bio-degradable materials.
Soon, she got a reputation for training and was teaching employees at small millet processing centers around Senegal how to make their own bags. Though time consuming, for the smaller, mostly women-owned centers, the added income was worthwhile.
Now that her own millet processing group in Toubakouta was making their own bags, sales began to increase. Kadhy went out to train others and share her skills. With the added income from training and sales, she was able to increase the economic opportunities in her home town, investing further in the processing center back home, and employing four more women.
Other groups noticed as well. In partnership with NCBA CLUSA’s food security project in the region, USAID | Yaajeende, community-based solution providers (CBSPs)—local entrepreneurs bringing much needed health, agriculture and nutrition products to their communities—saw the benefits of packaging. Khady has trained the small shop owners to package products like enriched flour or other grains.
“This has allowed me to acquire the know-how and a reputation in manufacturing local packaging,” Kadhy said. She’s seeing more opportunity to train every day. “There is a processing group in Kaolack importing similar packaging from China; they could be interested in doing it themselves.”
Khady recently trained 60 representatives from 30 companies in the Kaolack region. For the smaller businesses, starting off with non-plastic packaging makes it easier to comply with the new no plastic bag laws in Senegal. Local alternatives give them the ability to market their products professionally and increase their sales in urban markets. The local paper packaging training will soon expand to other regions.
This has addressed an issue facing all small producers, especially women, Khady said. “But it also supports the government of Senegal in its fight against the use of plastic packaging in order to preserve the environment.”
Learn more about NCBA CLUSA’s USDA-funded Millet Business Services Project, and why we support women like Kadhy in developing their businesses.