Oyster farming as a driver of opportunity for women in Senegal – On the Somone lagoon, Ousmane Fall, 42 years old and a fishmonger by profession, is busy with his team cleaning the bags containing the oyster spat destined for farming. Although not initially interested in oyster farming, Ousmane is now fully committed to this activity.
Convinced by his best friend and current collaborator Khadim Tine, Manager of their oyster farm “La cabane penchée”, they embarked on the adventure in 2018. Their first attempt at oyster farming, however, ended in a considerable financial loss. They only harvested one tonne the first year and have since learned from their experiences.
“Today, we can produce up to six tonnes a year,” adds Fall, who now makes his entire living from this activity and provides for his family.
He shares his enthusiasm for oyster farming with Seynabou Diatta, an oyster farmer from the village of Némaba in Toubacouta, in the Saloum delta. 15 years ago, oyster farming was a utopian dream for her community.
“Today, it has changed the lives of us women,” she explains proudly, gazing out over the lagoon.
Seynabou came to visit Ousmane’s farm at the same time as a delegation from the European Parliament, who were visiting Senegal to find out about development programmes funded by the European Union (EU).
Seynabou and Ousmane are among the FISH4ACP beneficiaries and collaborators that the delegation wanted to meet.
FISH4ACP is an initiative of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OECP), implemented by the FAO and funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which aims to ensure the sustainability of fisheries and aquaculture value chains in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific.
In Senegal, FISH4ACP is working to make the oyster farming value chain more productive and sustainable, to transform it into a catalyst for economic and social development, based on sustainable and equitable oyster farming that contributes to the empowerment of women.
“We can see the added value, we can see that there are a multitude of players, each converging with their own resources, and that’s important for us,” explained Catherine Chabaud, MEP, who chairs the Parliament’s delegation.
She also stressed the importance of preserving the mangrove ecosystem, which plays an essential role in carbon sequestration and oxygen production, and warned of the consequences of pollution that could affect oyster production.
Among the main difficulties mentioned by the technical staff are the lack of knowledge of the environment, quality issues requiring monitoring and controls, and the mapping of sites at national level.
“We are working to improve local production, provide better jobs and lighten the load on the environment,” said Amy Collé Gaye, National Administrator of FISH4ACP Senegal, who also stressed the importance of improving the sanitary quality of the product.
Women oyster farmers from Somone also shared their experience with the delegation. They are an important part of the oyster farming industry, and would like to receive more support, especially in terms of equipment, so that they can go even further in their activity and increase their production.
The industry approach adopted by the FISH4ACP programme offers a helping hand to the Senegalese oyster industry. The men and women who work in this sector are keen to develop their activity, preserve the environment and create new economic opportunities.
With the support of the European Union and local partners, oyster farming in Senegal is emerging as a promising sector, offering hope for coastal communities and the women who play an essential role in it.
Oyster farming as a driver of opportunity for women in Senegal