Technical partners: Mayors of the municipalities, Centres agricoles régionaux pour le développement rural (CADER)
- 27 female co-operative members in 3 municipalities
- 300 employees for the year, mainly women
- 330 families (i.e. 3000 people benefiting from the income and economic spinoff generated by the jobs created)
Background and issues
In Benin, 56% of the population makes a living from agriculture and more than one third live below the poverty line, most of them in rural areas.
Women's work: in isolated rural areas with no access to energy, almost 60% of girls aged between 10 and 14 work, some of them having started as early as age 7 (fetching water, working in the fields, etc.).
Amongst their tasks, manual processing of agricultural produce sold in the market (palm oil soap, groundnut oil, tapioca, etc.) is arduous and time-consuming. A rural woman in Benin works an average of 16 hours per day spread over farming activities and domestic chores.
As a result, the entrepreneurial spirit, often driven by women, is the key to social change in the country. Their income benefits the whole household: domestic expenses, access to health care and lighting that enables children to study in the evening.
Objectives and solutions
GERES began working in Zou in 2000. In this rural southern area of the country, it is involved in encouraging mechanisation of food processing so as to improve women's working conditions and quality of life.
Of the 29 women's groups supported by GERES, three co-operatives producing groundnut oil in Agonlin region have benefited from equipment and a dedicated building for the clarification process. Clarification helps to purify the cold-pressed raw oil, obtaining a high-quality oil through dehydration and filtration.
This oil from Agonlin, known as Agonlinmi, which is highly perfumed and appreciated by women in Benin, nevertheless faces unfair competition because strong demand encourages a large number of unscrupulous traders to offer oils that have been adulterated or blended into unknown mixtures.
The Agonlinmi project now aims to improve the processes in the new clarification unit and organize a processing/marketing chain for local Agonlin oil, fostering the economic emancipation of the women co-operative members as well as improvements in the living conditions of the 300 families involved in the activity.