Last month we kicked off a series of training sessions for a group of onion growers in Senegal. This group is looking forward to learning innovative practices for growing onion crops from high quality hybrid seeds.

The new seeds are for onion varieties that were developed specifically for the West African climate to provide higher yield and better quality product. However, these hybrid varieties perform best when farmers also have access to more modern techniques for sowing, irrigation, fertilization, harvesting and storage.

The training sessions are part of a joint project between Bejo and food trading company JP Beemsterboer. The goal is to bring high quality produce to market while benefiting all stakeholders in the supply chain. For farmers this means higher income, for wholesalers and supermarkets a steadier supply of uniform produce. For West African consumers it means healthy, affordable food for a longer part of the year.

The farmers in this first group were chosen because they already serve as models of best practices in their community. They also take an innovative approach and are interested in testing new methods. Ideally, other growers will follow their lead. This first group is a pilot, and we aim to double the number of participating farmers every year. The project centers on providing training but also includes investments in a new trial and breeding station, as well as collaborations with local banks, training institutes and other partners.

Area business manager Andre Dekker says: “To meet the current and projected demand for fresh food in Africa, farmers must rapidly increase the supply of fresh produce. Meanwhile supermarkets are taking an increasingly important role in produce distribution, and consumers are looking for consistent quality and year-round availability, preferably of locally grown vegetables.

With our training program Bejo supports growers so they can take advantage of the changing market. Farmers in the Netherlands have seen similar changes in the past 50 years and are familiar with this adaptation process. These are changes that require time and commitment. At Bejo we see knowledge transfer as part of what we offer our customers worldwide.”

With our training program Bejo supports growers so they can take advantage of the changing market.

Andre Dekker - Area business manager