With Thread as its base, in April 2015 Le Korsa began an agricultural development program in the villages of Sinthian and neighboring Dialico. Abib Dieye, Le Korsa’s Coordinator of Agricultural Projects, oversees the program from Sinthian. Augustin Diouf, the Assistant Coordinator of Agricultural Projects, provides support, along with Thread’s General Manager Moussa Sene and Director of Agricultural Programs Robbie Smith.
The goal is to provide women in both villages with more efficient agricultural techniques so that they can grow crops for sale at market and earn income for their families. In each village, the women have a community farm, and have organized into a labor collective to work and manage the land. These collectives are self-governing, pool their funds, and enforce their own accountability and absentee policies. Within the collectives are smaller sub-groups, each of which has its own group leader.
Le Korsa has provided organizational guidance to the collectives, and has been training the women in a range of agricultural techniques, including the sizing of garden beds; proper plant spacing; proper watering techniques; transitioning plants from a nursery to a field; pest control; and fertilization and compost methods.
In Dialico, 145 women work on the community farm, and they have been growing okra, onion and turnips. To assist the women in this effort and to make it viable, Le Korsa funded the installation of a solar-powered pump in the village, which is crucial in bringing up water from the deep well — dug to approximately 80 feet because of the low water table in the area. Without the pump, the watering of a small parcel of land took the women two to three hours, whereas now it takes them 30 to 45 minutes.
In Sinthian, 135 women work on the farm, and have been growing chili peppers, eggplant, salad greens, and peanuts.
During the summer of 2015, a nun came to teach soap-making at Thread, and used local materials that were purchased, through an Le Korsa grant, for 80,000 FCFA, or $160.00. The women in Sinthian then sold the soap they had made, and used the proceeds to purchase peanut seeds, which they planted on land given to them by the village chief. They harvested over one ton of peanuts, which they sold, once market conditions were favorable, for $650.00, earning them a huge return. It’s a perfect example of how a small grant can have a large impact.
In May 2016, the women of Sinthian were awarded a $30,000 grant from the Senegalese government to develop rice production. The women will farm 70 hectares in total, divided between individual and shared plots. This project will allow them to achieve an even greater food security, and increase their income-earning potential.
Le Korsa continues to work with the women in both villages to expand their projects.