Andando has worked hard over the last several years to establish thriving vegetable gardens in the arid peanut region of Senegal, in the community of Keur Soce. Working with local groups, we installed wells and solar-powered pumps to irrigate gardens run by women’s cooperatives. They have responded by working hard and dedicating themselves to the success of the garden and the hope it can give for a better future. Beyond the initial investment, our Garden Technicians work with these partners on a daily basis to provide technical assistance, special training workshops, and other support.
We recently sat down with Dieynaba Ba – one of the women in the co-ops – to discuss what the project has done for her and the changes she has felt, both in herself and in her community. Despite being one of the oldest members of the cooperative, Ba is extremely dedicated and is out in the garden everyday. The interview was conducted by Massamba Ndiour, Andando’s Keur Soce Project Manager.
What have you learned in your time working with Andando and the garden?
Through working in this garden with Andando, my abilities in vegetable cultivation techniques have been developed and strengthened. I learned what is organic (no fertilizer or pesticide), what serves as a nursery, how to make garden beds, and how to sustain the beds. I learned to diversify the seeded area to increase production and maintain soil quality.
This garden vegetable has allowed me to acquire a new spirit of entrepreneurship. I understand now that I can be more productive during the nine months of the dry season in Senegal. This garden has increased my income and given me hope.
How has this project changed what you believe about your community?
Union is strength. It reminds us that the community must continue to unite and organize themselves. Indeed, we are working as a collective status toward the common good of the women members. Andando emphasizes the aims not of the individual personal, but that of the group.
For me, the vegetable garden has strengthened the women and given us knowledge in the chain of values for the vegetables - production, marketing and consumption. So, I am excited about the future with the capabilities gained in this Market Garden with the presence of Andando.
First, we realize more and more that time is precious. Then consider that, before this project, the nine months of dry season were long and unprofitable economically. Now, we plan our activities on the basis of the work in the garden.
The rainy season is brief in Senegal. After this period it is usually the housework that dominated the rest of the year. There was a little trade, but it was not much. Some women wandered in the bush to cut wood to sell, other harvested wild berries. All these activities left us very tired and yet yielded almost nothing. We did not want to sit everyday and do nothing, but there were little options. However today, the Market Garden is nearby and is less tiring and more cost-effective than what we were doing.
How does this make you feel about the future?
There is more awareness of the potential that sleeps in us. We feel that can create more wealth. The future is promising if we stay engaged with determination.
We love to hear stories like this and personal testimonies of the impact these projects are making! Check back with us on Wednesday for another interview with one of the women of the garden.