Solar hullers provide new economic opportunities for subsistence rice farmers in Senegal

Rice farmers in glad with opportunities coming along Solar hullers [Image:courtesy]
Senegal—A solar huller is providing fresh impetus to the activities of a small cooperative of rice growers in Koudi, eastern Senegal.

It is enabling them to replace the inefficient practice of removing the chaff from the grain by hand with an automated process, so giving them the chance to move beyond substance production.

Fully subsidized through the water and energy program (PEEPA/WE4F), the huller is one of the two systems deployed across Senegal to demonstrate the technical and financial validity of the solar technology among small rice producers in an effort to improve the efficiency of rice processing and therefore the food security and resilience of local communities.

As for many other small producers across Senegal, processing paddy rice has always been a challenge for GIE Koudi Djike, a cooperative of 25 small rice producers (18 women and 7 men) based in Koudi.

Located 20 kilometers from the town Gouiry in Tamabcouda, Koudi occupies a strategic position because it sits at the intersection of around thirty villages comprising about 2000 producers who practice winter rice cultivation.

For these producers, rice is the main subsistence crop and is grown solely for household consumption, which is only possible during the rainy season due to the absence of perennial water resources.

The lack of local processing units incurs severe logistical difficulties and expensive. It seems that the local growers need to travel 100km from Koudi to husk their paddy rice in the only two available hullers located in Koulor and Bala.

To transport and husk one tonne of paddy rice, a producer would typically spend over 50,000 Senegalese Franc ($90), not including food and accommodation.

If there is a fuel shortage or a system failure at the facility, the processing stops for a few days, leaving the producers in the lurch.

Few growers can afford that cost and the hassle, so they resort to manual husking- a slow and labor-intensive activity often performed by women. It typically takes half a day to pound a p100 kg bag of paddy rice to obtain about 40 kilograms of husked rice.

With no previous, marketing and sales experience, the GIE Koudi Djike has a lot to learn. Energy 4 impact is providing expert support and guidance cooperatives.