Today, Oikocredit USA’s Stuart Krengel will be traveling to the Casamance region of Senegal to meet with Oikocredit field staff and learn more about the work our partners are doing in Senegal. Before he leaves, this installment of Tour around the World with Oikocredit will explore the Oikocredit’s investments in one of Senegal’s major economic activities – mango farming.
In the 2011 Human Development Index, Senegal was ranked 155 out of 187 countries, making it one of the least developed countries in the World. According to the World Bank, 46.7% of the population lives below the national poverty line. One of the poorest regions is Casamance, the southernmost region of the country.
Farming is a key activity of the Senegalese economy, with agriculture employing more than 70% of the labor force and accounting for about 15% of GDP. In Casamance, the main economic activity is small-scale fruit farming, specifically mangos. However, due to an overwhelmingly underdeveloped infrastructure in the region, small-scale producers are unable to gain access to national and export markets. This lack of access forces these impoverished farmers to lose out on a lucrative national market.
It is in this region that Oikocredit partner Les Saveurs du Sud operates. Through the cooperative COPEX SUD, Les Saveurs du Sud help ensure that 3,500 small mango producers of Kataba and Djinaky in Casamance are able to sell fresh and dried mango to local and international markets.
Oikocredit Senegal made an equity investment of XOF 24,000,000 (about $50,000) to help support the region’s mango farmers through Les Saveurs du Sud’s value chain approach. Additionally, Oikocredit has provided local currency loans totaling about XOF 260,000,000 (about $540,000), which have gone toward financing equipment and providing working capital for the cooperative.
Next week, follow Stuart as he gains a first-hand look at the work Les Saveurs du Sud is doing to help support local mango farmers in the Casamance region of Senegal. You can read his blog from the field here or follow him live on Twitter and Facebook. You can also join us for a public webinar on Monday, February 25th to hear more about Stuart’s experiences.