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IFC, AATIF invest in Senegal onion plant to boost agriculture and jobs

IFC, a member of the World Bank Group and the Africa Agriculture and Trade Investment Fund (AATIF), announced an investment to help Société Africaine d’Ingrédients (SAF Ingrédients) build an onion dehydration plant in Senegal

This plant is said to be the first in sub-Saharan Africa that will create hundreds of jobs and boost the country’s agriculture exports.

The project involves decommissioning an existing onion dehydration plant (built-in 2003 and closed in 2014) near Dijon, France, and relocating it to St. Louis in northern Senegal. Support from IFC and AATIF will also help SAF Ingrédients develop a 760-hectare onion farm and establish a large out-grower network of onion farmers.

The plant is expected to produce almost 5,000 tonnes of dehydrated onions annually, representing 2% of the global supply, with some production being exported to Europe. Dry onion powder is an important and popular flavouring in soups, stews, and many other dishes.

The US$15mn investment is composed of AATIF’s US$7mn senior loan, IFC’s “A” loan of up to US$4.1mn from IFC’s own account, and a concessional loan from the IDA Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility of up to US$4.1mn. The IDA Private Sector Window was launched to catalyse private sector investment in places where it is needed most.

Magatte Wade and Emmanuel Vallantin Dulac, respectively CEO and managing director of SAF Ingrédients, said in a statement, “Support from IFC and AATIF will allow us to build only the second onion dehydration plant in Africa while creating jobs and sustaining the livelihood of thousands of farmers. It will also allow us to grow our business in West Africa and link Senegal to the global food industry.”

Aliou Maiga, IFC’s director for West and Central Africa, said, “This investment illustrates IFC’s support to improve access to finance for SMEs in agriculture, which is essential to create jobs in Senegal. It is also timely, as it will help spur agricultural productivity and contribute to Senegal’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Dr Thomas Duve, chairman of the board of directors of AATIF, said, “This investment represents AATIF’s first corporate investment in Francophone West Africa, one whose potential impact in the local economy excites us. With 100% of the supply being sourced locally, largely from smallholder and commercials farmers, alongside the creation of numerous jobs, this project is an opportunity for significant impact on local value addition, one we are proud to be affiliated with.”