In 2017, Africa imported nearly $41 billion worth of food. Yet it has ample potential to guarantee its food self-sufficiency. In Niger, the social enterprise VLAN intends to make good use of resources from local agriculture and wild trees.
African countries do not lack resources to meet the food needs of their populations. This is a fact! These resources are simply badly exploited. This is the starting point of the VLAN Group, specialized in the agro-food transformation of local products from agriculture and wild trees. At its head, the talented Mariama ABDOULAYE, a young entrepreneur. Alongside her, 3 permanent employees and a dozen temporary workers keep this agribusiness company running. The VLAN group produces a diversified range of products: dried vegetables (carrots, cabbage, peas, peppers, green beans, tomatoes, squash, parsley, celery…), dried fruits (mango, melon, papaya…), but also improved flours for adults (especially for pregnant women and the elderly), infant flours, purees for babies, fresh vegetable milk and cheese, juices, chips, chocolates…
To face famine and malnutrition, the company offers on the local market healthy and natural products made exclusively from local ingredients. A real alternative to the consumption of imported products, which are for the most part filled with chemicals, salt and other additives, causes of diseases such as hypertension, diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Secondly, the VLAN group helps farmers by offering them a solution to preserve their easily perishable foodstuffs. They can thus reduce their post-harvest losses, limit food waste and have new sources of income.
For the moment, their products are marketed in the capital and in a few other cities in Niger. Nevertheless, the young company has clear ambitions to cover the whole country with local, healthy and natural products.
The company’s slogan “social entrepreneurship at the service of sustainable development” summarizes VLAN’s desire to preserve the environment.
Niger is a Sahelian country where the effects of climate change are not without consequences on the soil and on life in general. Through the actions, trainings and sensitizations that it carries out, the company wants to demonstrate that it is possible to consume locally while preserving the environment.
On the other hand, as Mariama points out, her company wishes to show the interest of wild trees in food and therefore the need to protect them.
In terms of prospects, the VLAN group will have to overcome a number of obstacles. First of all, the packaging problems that make their products less “attractive” than imported products. For this, the company needs financial reinforcements. Secondly, the fact that many people still doubt the quality of the products given that they are handmade or semi-industrial.
To finish, Mariama Abdoulaye launches an invitation to consume without moderation local products. Because to consume local products is: to help local producers, to eat natural and healthy food, and to contribute to the development of one’s country.