Wealthier customers who come from afar
For Ebiro, this marketing effort is attracting wealthier and more demanding customers. “We deliver mainly to the residence of the Religious Sisters of Anié and we are increasingly getting customers who are coming from Lomé, the capital,” she states.
Sister Georgette, the Superior of the Franciscan Sisters’ residence in Anié states that “I now buy rice only from Femmes Vaillantes, which I discovered when I came to Anié two years ago. I like the quality and the taste. I also help the cooperative supply many other congregations who ask me about the rice when they taste it at my residence.”
For the time being, the cooperative’s office and its production site are on the President’s family compound. However, Femmes Vaillantes is thinking big and plans to build a large processing center.
Using the profit derived from the increase in its sales volume, the cooperative has bought two hectares of land in the small village of Sevia, roughly 10 kilometers from Anié, with the goal of increasing its production. WAAPP has once again come to the rescue. Ekouya Adoukonou, President of the monitoring committee of Femmes Vaillantes, which now employs two seasonal workers to plow and maintain the community field, states that “the project helped me get training in Mali in intensive rice-growing techniques. When I returned, I trained the other members of the cooperative, particularly in the transplanting technique, which allowed us to move from two to seven metric tons of rice per hectare.”
Ekouya, Ebiro, and their colleagues experience less uncertainty in their daily lives since their cooperative became a small and dynamic enterprise. “I am a widow and I am finally able to provide for my family. Most important, I manage to pay the education expenses of all my children,” states Mrs. Kadokalih, a member of the cooperative.
With financing of $32.8 million from the World Bank through the International Development Association, the West Africa Agricultural Productivity Program (WAAPP) has already provided assistance to 10 rice parboilers’ cooperatives managed by women and directly impacted the lives of more than 227,000 Togolese women.