Two projects in Burkina Faso, “TOMATO REVOLUTION & SWEET PRODUCTION”, have just been concluded. The first is co-financed by the Emilia-Romagna Region and the second by the Comitato Lecchese per la Pace e la Cooperazione tra i Popoli. Thanks to these interventions, Mani Tese has been involved in organising a group of women specialised in the transformation of tomatoes into puree and fruit into jam.
It all started with the identification of a group of 30 women, selected from the Loumbila Nankogblegzanga Producers’ Union, and their subsequent training in the hygiene criteria to be adopted in the processing workshop, the sterilisation and storage of jars and, of course, the techniques for processing tomatoes and fruit to make tomato sauce and jams.
10 of these women, the most determined ones, then formed the group that would be in charge of preparing tomato puree and jams, and Mani Tese provided the necessary and useful equipment for the transformation: a set of pots of various sizes, cookers, scales, work tables, jars for packaging the products and various tools.
The group of women also had the opportunity to visit another cooperative, that of Boussouma in the province of Bolgou, a region in the centre-east of Burkina Faso, which has been producing tomato puree for some years now. Here, the women were able to better understand the potential of this activity and saw at first hand a medium-sized processing unit with a good production rate that is already supplying many customers, with a fair return for the women who are part of the cooperative. This exchange visit certainly helped to motivate the group further.
However, one very important element was missing: we had to build the workshop where we could process the tomatoes and fruit! It seemed impossible, because no renovation work was foreseen in the project budget, but with a bit of shrewdness we saved money on some purchases and applied for a non-burdensome variant to shift the necessary funds, which the Emilia Romagna Region approved.
To create the processing workshop, we made use of the outdoor patio of the Union’s headquarters in Loumbila, which had not been used until now. We paved the floor with tiles and installed windows. Et voila, the workshop was ready to host the activities of the women, who immediately showed great care for this space: woe betide entering without their permission or taking off your shoes!
This is how the production of jam and tomato sauce started. We have enhanced the products by accompanying the glass containers with beautiful labels, creating a kind of product line characterised by pleasant aesthetics and immediate recognisability that enhances the contents. The group of women processors also participated in two trade fairs, which enabled them to receive their first orders and acquire contacts from potential customers.
Obviously, running a business is not always easy and there have been many difficulties: this year, for example, tomato production was low due to reduced rainfall and an insect attack on the plants. This year, for example, the tomato production was low due to a decrease in rainfall and an insect attack on the plants. However, the group of women was never discouraged and managed to prepare all the preserves that were ordered.
Some figures on Mani Tese’s support to the Union of Producers of Loumbila Nankogblegzanga (Burkina Faso)
Over the years, Mani Tese has supported the Loumbila Producers’ Union through numerous projects and has helped to promote agro-ecological transition in the peri-urban area of Loumbila, which is about 40 km from the capital Ouagadougou.
In 2016, the Loumbila Nankogblegzanga Union had 10 agro-ecological production sites, whereas today there are more than 50. 230 producers are members of the Union, including more than 140 women, from 9 villages and grouped into 17 member cooperatives. In addition, one site, where Mani Tese has built the Union’s headquarters, has acquired the Bio SPG label, an alternative organic certification system adapted to the local context. Finally, for some years now, Mani Tese has contributed to the activation of an internal credit system that supports producers in the purchase of equipment, seeds and other items, at crucial times for seasonal production.
Although the “TOMATO REVOLUTION & SWEET PRODUCTIONS” projects have come to an end and there is no longer any direct funding, Mani Tese has nevertheless decided to stand by the Loumbila Nankogblegzanga Producers’ Union by continuing to mentor the women processors in the development of their business and supporting the credit system already in place for the benefit of the cooperative’s producers.
Here are some photos of the women at work in the workshop
Participation in a trade fair
Transforming the outdoor patio of the Loumbila Nankogblegzanga Union office into a laboratory