Unique Quality Product Enterprise, SAG-SEED Award Winner 2016

Unique Quality Product Enterprise, SAG-SEED Award Winner 2016


I learned in the three Northern regions that there was a lot of hunger and people were starving. So they got into the wild and they saw cereals like this that they could crush and make it food. But because of the introduction of rice and other cereals, they abandonded it. The only group of people that were still producing it were part of my community, because they have a traditional and cultural sense to it. My name is Salma Abudlai I work for Unique Quality Product Enterprise. We are using a market-led approach to promoting the production and processing of Fonio. One thing that makes Fonio special is that it’s a climate-resilient crop. It doesn’t fear flood. It doesn’t fear drought. It grows under any condition. Also it has a lot of amazing nutritional
and health properties. missing in most of the cereals that we have. The fact that it’s a woman’s crop is also one of the reasons that makes it special, because it indirectly gives access to land to women. We have a lot of gender issues here. It’s been a long, long history, a tradition that the father hands over to the son and the son hands over to his son. Women had been left out for a very long time. With my mom, I could look at a time where she would have been growing if she had had land on her own. Oh, what she could do with this. I think the first challenge was believing in myself. The idea would have been so easy if I wanted to pass through the normal routes everybody does. But I refused to do that, because I also had the social conciousness that I actually wanted to achieve. People said it was impossible. There is no way you can get land for women to produce this cereal. Just go for men. You know our culture, our tradition and all that. But it has happened. The culture is still there. The tradition is still there. But women have access to land today. So, the fact that this innovation has been able to take care of that is something that brings a lot of joy to me. If you want to motivate someone to produce, then it has to come the market way. Some of the men had that understanding that this is not something that the women would come and compete with me. Most of them refer their women to come and register, because the family has abandoned land somewhere. So there is win-win for everyone. The other challenge was, that you had the idea what you wanted to do, but there weren’t so many people who had the technical expertise to help you do it. Even if you talk about Fonio, so many people will say What is that? Because they don’t know what it is. So if they don’t know what it is, how do they even acquire the skills? We work together, to process and market the Fonio. And this partnership is win-win. What it did to us, was to further reduce our cost of production and cost of processing. We go and sell. You know, we incurr costs to make money, by picking what they have processed. We also train them to improve on the quality, because without good quality, you can’t get the market that you want. It is helping them transform their lives. Moving forward, we want to make sure that the chain is working well. Everybody will benefit and then we can actually come out with all the exciting products that we want to come out with. That way we grow, we get more farmers involved, we get more women into processing and you know, that is the chain everbody benefits.

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