SAMCERT: Red Gold Grows in Senegal
In late 2012 SAMCERT initiated its fruitful collaboration with hibiscus producers participating in the PAFA (Projet d’Appui aux Filières Agricoles) project in the Kaolack region of Senegal.
Thanks to the cultivation of groundnuts (notably peanuts), the Kaolack basin has long been one of the country’s most dynamic agricultural regions. Yet the prolonged decline of groundnut prices, and problems associated with land degradation and climate change have contributed to its economic decline. Designed by IFAD, the raison d’être of the PAFA project is to tackle rural poverty through support for local value chains, based on sustainable agricultural practices.
Small farmers – including the most vulnerable – are supported to access markets through production contracts between their organisations and the private sector. PAFA is supporting 6 value chains: Sorghum, Niébé (black-eyed peas), Sesame, Poultry Breeding and Hibiscus, and providing a powerful impetus to growth and poverty reduction, both at the regional and national level.
SAMCERT, jointly with PAFA and IFAD staff selected hibiscus as the target value chain for its work.
Hibiscus: Properties and Uses
In Senegal, hibiscus, or bissap as it is known locally, is a traditional cold beverage made from infused hibiscus calyces, and is front and centre at all gatherings. Hibiscus is rich in vitamin C, facilitates digestion, acts as a depurative and a diuretic and helps lower blood pressure; furthermore, hibiscus is rich in antioxidants.
The red calyces of the plant are exported to North America and Europe, where they are used in herbal teas, as natural food colourings and as red pigment in cosmetic products.
SAMCERT in Senegal:
In the summer of 2013 SAMCERT facilitated the laboratory analysis of hibiscus grown by PAFA-supported producers. The results were extremely positive and, with private sector encouragement, the producer groups are now preparing to certify their hibiscus Organic (and possibly Fairtrade).
Consequently SAMCERT has supported this process by way of a training workshop on ICS (Internal Control System) to prepare the producers to meet Organic and Fairtrade certification requirements.
INTERNAL CONTROL SYSTEMS WORKSHOP
The SAMCERT workshop took place in Kaolack in September 2013 and sought to assist the PAFA hibiscus groups to prepare and set up internal control systems, to assist with their internal organisation, management and quality control and with an eye to seeking certification (Organic and/or Fairtrade). Seven groups attended the workshop, including groups specialised in black-eyed peas, sorghum etc. The workshop was supported by AgrEcol, a dynamic local NGO, and PAFA partner, with a wealth of certification experience.
There is considerable potential for the development of public-private partnerships for hibiscus producers in Senegal. The hibiscus cultivated in the Kaolack region is of high quality and the producers (most of whom are women) are benefiting from a wealth of support from the PAFA (certification support, improved agricultural practices, modern storage facilities, state of the art drying tables etc.), likely to make it increasingly sought after on the international market. SAMCERT is there to help facilitate this process, by bringing the hibiscus to the attention of key market actors.
Moreover, we recommend the following article, published by Agridape on the PAFA project: