The new onion dehydration plant is considered to be first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in Senegal


IFC and AATIF to help SAF Ingrédients in building new plant in Senegal. (Credit: Pixabay/klimkin.)

International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Africa Agriculture and Trade Investment Fund (AATIF) have agreed to invest €13m in Société Africaine d’Ingrédients (SAF Ingrédients) to build an onion dehydration plant in Senegal.

Considered to be the first in sub-Saharan Africa, the new onion plant is expected to create hundreds of jobs and boost the country’s agriculture exports.

The €13m investment includes €6m in senior loan from AATIF, an A loan of up to €3.5m from IFC’s own account and a concessional loan from the IDA Private Sector Window Blended Finance Facility of up to €3.5m.

IFC West and Central Africa director Aliou Maiga 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.”

The project involves the decommissioning of an existing onion dehydration plant which was built in 2003 and closed in 2014, near Dijon, France, and relocating it to St. Louis in northern Senegal.

With support from IFC and AATIF, SAF Ingrédients will develop a new 760-hectare onion farm and establish a large network of onion farmers.

The new plant to produce about 5,000 tonnes of dehydrated onion annually

When completed, the plant is expected to produce nearly 5,000 tonnes of dehydrated onions annually, which is equivalent to 2% of the global supply.

Of the 5,000 tonnes produced, some portion could be exported to Europe. The dry onion powder has a demand in the region, where it is used as an important flavouring ingredient in soups, stews and other dishes.

AATIF board of directors chairman Thomas Duve 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.”

SAF Ingrédients CEO Magatte Wade and managing director Emmanuel Vallantin Dulac in a statement said: “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.”