SheTrades Gambia and the Youth Empowerment Project of the International Trade Centre have set up an innovative way to redirect the purchase of onions by hotels, restaurants, or roadside stalls to local farmers.
In 2020, with borders closed and international freight routes shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, imports of many food items came to a halt. For many years, this was a big blow to the consumers like hotels, restaurants, or roadside stalls. They used to import food products to the Gambia.
The consequences were equally devastating for local Gambian farmers, with a complete breakdown of their market opportunities. The ‘Lumos’ (local, weekly markets) were suspended, and transport links fell apart due to COVID-19 related restrictions.
Women farmers operating in communal horticultural gardens were in the middle of the harvest season for onions – a favorite vegetable of many Gambians.
SheTrades Gambia and the Youth Empowerment Project of the International Trade Centre, together with partners, addressed the situation by identifying onion importers left without stock and agreeing to buy the local produce.
The project successfully created direct linkages between women’s gardens across the Gambia and the buyers by hiring transporters and associations to move the produce.
As a result, the women farmers benefitted in several ways: many learned about buyer requirements, including packaging, and some used scales for the first time to weigh their produce, getting a better understanding of how prices are determined and how they can negotiate with buyers.
“SheTrades has removed me from a hole,” says Jonma Manneh Jukadou, a farmer from Dasilameh. “The middlemen were exploiting us with low prices. I want to thank the project for the intervention. I am very happy and motivated to grow more onions next year.”
One main challenge was the skepticism of the farmers. But the International Trade Centre and its partners were able to facilitate the sourcing of 173.6 tonnes of horticultural produce and generate an income for mostly women farmers of around $86,000 during a particular time of need.
The OPEC Fund for International Development and the Enhanced Integrated Framework is funding the International Trade Centre’s SheTrades Gambia project. In addition, the European Union Trust Fund is financing the Youth Empowerment Project in The Gambia.