Beyond the farm, millet farmers in Senegal are preserving their harvest with better warehousing

Mamadou Mbengue stands in the warehouse he manages in Senegal.Mamadou Mbengue stands in the warehouse he manages in Senegal.Mamadou Mbengue stands in the warehouse he manages in Senegal.Millet farming is a big part of the economy in the tiny village of Darou Mbané, Senegal. But with their harvests sitting in old sacks and bad warehouses, farmers were losing huge chunks of their millet, and therefore their incomes, to mold and other problems.

To combat this, the producer group in the village sent Mamadou Mbengue, one of their farmers, to get trained on best practices in warehousing and sales. The training was part of the Millet Business Services Project in the region. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and implemented by NCBA CLUSA, the project is helping millet farmers make the most of their harvests with better growing techniques that include conservation agriculture and post-harvest efficiencies, like local packaging and business training.

In a village of less than 1,000 people (over half of whom are children) Mamadou brought back his skills to the producer organization. Training on storage and conservation techniques allowed him to manage the millet stock more efficiently and keep the grain away from moisture, insects, excessive heat and other problems that can compromise quality.

He was also trained in warehousing—learning to keep inventory, handle the cash register, avoid mistakes on packaging and test for infested millet to keep the product safe. As part of organizational training with his producer group, they divided the roles and got more farmers involved in the business side.

“We know exactly the number of members and role of each,” Mamadou said. “We understand that it is not only the president who must do everything. Each [member] has a role to play.”

Mamadou is taking to his role as a warehouse manager. He is proud of the increase in quality assurance for his farmers.

“I take care of the management of the production stocks for the members of my village,” he said.

Though the end of harvest amount was smaller, the group had a zero percent loss on the 2,000 kilograms in the warehouse. As they go into the next season, they are hoping for the same high rates of preservation.

The Darou Mbane group has decreased their harvest losses through better storage management. Across Senegal, the Millet Business Service Project is supporting farmers in post-harvest handling, looking to avoid losses and raising incomes as farmers work together.

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