Dutch agency signs MoU for Senegalese fruit exports

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Dutch agency signs MoU for Senegalese fruit exports

A Dutch government development group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Senegalese Agency of Export Promotion (Asepex), building on a relationship that has already seen strong growth for the West African country's mango sector. mangos_31749412 small

The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) has boasted a sizable presence at trade fair Fruit Logistica in Berlin, with countries represented ranging from Mali to Peru to Vietnam.

CBI fresh fruit and vegetables expert Gary Tomlins told www.freshfruitportal.com his organization offered support to emerging companies from targeted regions to help them access the European market, providing the expertise needed to help these firms make the leap from locally-focused traders to internationally-oriented exporters.

"One of the fresh initiatives of CBI is to work with specific value chains in specific areas, and the mango value chain in Senegal in West Africa has been identified as a strong contender," Tomlins said.

"We will visit a number of different companies, and those that are brought to our attention will come from the export councils within those countries - Asepex is a big agency within Senegal who help us coordinate who to choose and who to approach.

"Some [businesses] are already exporting and probably don't need much, some are on the verge where they may need some help and some may need a lot of help."

With this in mind, Tomlins emphasized that the CBI would only bring companies to events like Fruit Logistica if they were ready, with the expected good agricultural practices and ethical trading certifications.

At this year's fair, a total of 11 Senegalese entities have been in attendance: Asepex, Buursine International, Cayor Global Business Senegal (CGBSN), Delta Prim, EANGDS, Ecopaix SARL, Hortica, Laure Agro SARL, Master SARL, Miname Export and Ngueya SARL.

"The significant advantage of Senegal is that it is very close to Europe. It's only about three to five days by boat, so in terms of shipping costs and times that makes Senegal incredibly attractive for a number of products," Tomlins said.

"We're talking mangoes at the moment, but there are French companies that have moved in to produce early Charentais melons, and there are English companies that have moved down there to produce butternut squash and sweet corn, all for the early market."

Asepex director general Dr. Malick Diop told www.freshfruitportal.com the MoU would last until 2018.

"In the quality of production we are trying to achieve better production for growers to meet international market standards, and that's something we've been doing with CBI; it's a very good partnership and the results are now beginning to be seen," he said.

"The mango season begins in late April and goes until late July, and out of that we have a really important period in early June to late July."

The benefit of this attractive market window for Senegal, and its programs to improve production quality, helped raise exports from 8,000 metric tons (MT) to 11,000MT in 2013.

"We think that we will have 20% growth between 2013 and 2014," Diop said.

"Europe is our main market but we are trying to export elsewhere, like America and Asia - for the American market we have the AGOA (African Growth and Opportunity Act), which means we can export to America without tax, but the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have rules that are very strict and make access very difficult, however we are still trying to get there."

Photo: www.shutterstock.com




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