Senegal: A marketplace to support sustainable local agri-businesses

July 08, 2019
A translation for this article is available in French

In Senegal, there are many local producers and processors of organic products, grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides and processed without additives. But lack of visibility and organization are still major challenges. Sellers have small shops on unfamiliar corners, and enthusiasts have a hard time finding local products.

That’s why the Dakar Farmers Market was born. Now, vendors can reliably sell their goods and increase their market share. Also, the quality control measures for goods sold in this virtual and live marketplace give small-scale producers increased credibility. This represents a marketing opportunity for local, organic producers, no matter how much or how little they produce.

The Dakar Farmers Market exists both online and in a large outdoor space in the tourist centre of Dakar. White-coloured stalls are set up around the site and banners with company names decorate displays inside the stalls. The music, the rainbow-coloured products, and the atmosphere make the market a complete wonder. The Dakar Farmers Market is both a virtual fair and a large monthly gathering for fans of organic agricultural products.

The market started in October 2015 and is held the first Saturday of each month. The agro-artisanal event brings together producers, creators, local craftspeople, and consumers, who pay a 500 FCFA ($0.85 US) admission charge. Exhibitors pay up to 30,000 FCFA ($52 US). This gives them a table at one or more of the monthly markets or a place on the website to sell their goods.

Caamo Kane is the founder of Dakar Farmers Market. She explains: “The market is exclusively for agro-food companies, natural cosmetics, and eco-responsible solutions. It’s a marketplace that helps producers sell their goods, and also helps customers find products with just one click.”

Mrs. Kane got the idea for the market during a trip to Baltimore, in the U.S., in the summer of 2014, where she visited a similar market: the Baltimore Famers Market & Bazaar. She is pleased about the initiative, which is adapted to the Senegalese environment. She says: “I am happy this market contributes to an awareness of the value of our local products and the limits of imported products—understanding their manufacturing method [and] added preservatives. Several local products have gained better visibility thanks to the [market, which is] a real stepping stone!”

The Dakar Farmers Market uses the potential of the digital universe to make its products accessible. Farmers and processors register online through a form on the company’s website. Then the administrator investigates the company and the quality of the product before approving the application.

Abdoulaye Ngom is the director of a company called Les bassins verts de Nianing (Green basins of Nianing), which specializes in processing spirulina, a blue-green algae known for its many healthy qualities. His company is based 80 kilometres from Dakar, the Senegalese capital, which means that he can’t sell his goods without a good transportation network. But the Dakar Farmers Market now guarantees his purchase orders and delivery. Instead of waiting for the monthly fair, his customers place an order online.

Mr. Ngom has been participating in the Dakar Farmers Market since 2017. He says, “It’s a very interesting platform, especially with its recent transition to digital. Now the participants can show and sell their products every day, online. And it’s even better!”

Yandé Diouf processes mango, guava, and lemon into juice, oil, and powder. Her major concern was finding a network to sell her high quality products. She was able to grow her sales a bit on her own, but it has been easier to increase sales through the market and now she has had no difficulty delivering products to happy buyers.

For those who are passionate about purchasing local or organic products, they now know where to find them. Patricia B. is French and has been living in Dakar for a year. She discovered the market through Facebook and is a loyal visitor. She says, “I only consume organic, natural products. And here we find products that we are not used to seeing elsewhere.”

Starting with just 25 exhibitors at the beginning, the market now showcases 150 local companies and welcomes between 3,000 and 5,000 people visitors to the monthly market, a success that has attracted the attention of many people in Dakar, to Mrs. Kane’s great satisfaction.