Knowledge Center

FES is a learning organization that leverages research and analysis to identify food systems constraints and develop practical approaches that businesses can adopt.

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are essential for household health and equally critical for food businesses to reduce the incidence and transmission of foodborne diseases. The economic and health benefits of investing in water and sanitation are considerable. The estimated return on investment for every dollar spent is $4.3 USD – a gain achieved by reducing health care costs and improving workplace productivity.1 Investing in WASH also saves lives - diarrhea kills over 2,000 children per day globally, most preventable through improved WASH conditions.2 In Senegal alone, more than 40,000 deaths could be prevented annually through adequate WASH infrastructure and practice.

In March 2021, FES began implementing its private sector food safety strategy in Nepal through Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS), a project co-created with and funded by USAID. While implementing the BD4FS “Food Safety Situational Analysis”, the COVID-19 pandemic took a sharp turn for the worse in Nepal, almost completely shutting down the food system

Food safety is an integral part of growing food businesses, economic development, and public health. Food businesses, government, policy makers, and researchers all have different perspectives on promoters and barriers that affect food safety, and they provide important contributions to ensuring food safety practices occur in low- and middle-income (LMICs).

Horticulture crops such as fruit and vegetables play a significant role in income generation and help to ensure nutritional security via small business activities for many countries in Africa and Asia (Demmler 2020). In the case of Ethiopia, Rwanda, Senegal, and Nepal, focal countries for Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS) 1, the majority of the population is directly or indirectly involved in agriculture.

Horticulture crops are a good source to ensure nutritional security, and they also play a significant role in income generation by providing opportunity for a range of small business activities (Demmler, 2020). However, nutrient levels of fresh fruit and vegetables begin to decline gradually once harvested, due to their high water content (about 90%), contributing to deterioration and decay

Based upon the immediate necessity for interventions to reduce food losses and ensure food safety, Feed the Future Business Drivers for Food Safety (BD4FS), funded by USAID and implemented by Food Enterprise Solutions (FES), initiated research focused on Senegal, Nepal, Rwanda, and Ethiopia to be conducted by MARGEN. Considering the importance of crops with respect to consumption status, nutritional aspects, degree of postharvest loss, food safety issue and scope to the business opportunities, each country selected two important horticultural crops: Rwanda (Banana and Tomato), Ethiopia (Tomato and Mango), Nepal (Tomato and Apple), and Senegal (Tomato and Mango).

Perishable foods in the seafood, livestock, and, agricultural product sectors are an important source of food and income for the Senegalese population. This is particularly the case for rural populations and disadvantaged populations in cities who embark in low-income activities in order to survive. According to the latest World Bank report, the agriculture sector contributes 15 to 16% to Senegal’s GDP, and the sector employs about 70% of the rural population. 

Smoked fish is widely traded and consumed in the entire West African region and is even exported internationally. In Senegal, artisanally-caught fish is typically processed by women’s groups who use a variety of traditional processing techniques, most commonly smoking. Traditional smoking produces high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which are recognized as carcinogenic when consumed. Modern smoking ovens have been developed to reduce PAH levels in smoked fish, such as the Thiaroye model by FAO and the Ahotor oven model by the University of Rhode Island; however, these improved methods have not been widely adopted in many regions.

Fisheries, and especially the artisanal fisheries sector, are crucial to Senegal’s economy. They provide livelihoods for hundreds of thousands of its citizens, and fish represent a crucial source of protein for most of the population. Additionally, fish products are widely traded with neighboring countries in West Africa. While there are many health benefits to seafood consumption, seafood can carry a large variety of health hazards, potentially affecting millions of consumers in Senegal and its neighbour countries

In Senegal, artisanally processed fish is an important component of the economy and diet. In 2018, nearly 40,000 tons of fish were processed, worth an estimated $47.5 Million USD. The main types of processed fish include: kéthiakh which represents 63%, guédji 17%, tambadjang 6%, and methora 5% (Ministère des Pêches et de l’ Economie Maritime, 2019). Fish processing is labor intensive and provides many jobs, making it an important source of income generation in coastal communities which often suffer high levels of poverty and unemployment. Women represent over 90% of workers in the fish processing associations (University of Rhode Island [URI], 2018). 

In Senegal, artisanal processing of seafood is the oldest form of seafood value addition. It remains a relatively simple means to preserve and sustain the share of artisanal and industrial production not consumed fresh. Artisanally processed products are an integral part of Senegalese cooking practices and therefore contribute to meeting protein demand. However, it is often considered a marginalized sector although of paramount importance. Notwithstanding, the sector is faced with major challenges compromising its development, including difficulties accessing water, sanitation and hygiene

Au Sénégal, la transformation artisanale des produits de la mer est la forme de valorisation de produits de la pêche la plus ancienne. Elle s’impose comme moyen relativement simple pour conserver et reporter la partie de la production artisanale et industrielle qui n’a pas pu intégrer la consommation en frais. Les produits transformés artisanalement font partie intégrante des habitudes culinaires des sénégalais et par conséquent contribuent à la satisfaction de la demande en protéine.

Seafood is a critical source of nutrition in Senegal, especially among populations with low incomes. Post-catch processing, distribution and retailing are also a source of employment and income: in addition to fresh seafood sold near the point of catch, a significant amount gets processed (salted and smoked) and sold further inland and cross-border to neighboring countries. This important commodity for Senegal’s food security comes with important public health and food safety challenges. Many handling practices along the supply chain – cleaning, smoking, salting, drying, transporting and retailing – can contribute to loss of potential nutrients for consumers as well as losses of income and profit to businesses. In addition, poor food safety practices set the stage for transmission of food borne pathogens.

The current coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) is a fluid situation that is fueling a livelihoods crisis in both developed and emerging economies. Globally, consumers are concerned about the safety of their food and the risk of potential contagion. Though COVID-19 is a respiratory infection transmitted typically from person to person through direct contact, food systems are likely to be negatively impacted as they include human as well as surface transmission through critical actors including food producers, processors, transporters, warehouses, wholesale and retail food providers, and, of course, the consumer. 

The term “productivity” in agriculture typically refers to the cost efficiency of crop yields per unit of land, or the ratio of outputs, or yields, to inputs. But with so much of the food produced being lost to spoilage or damage before it gets to consumers in developing economies, we need a new definition of productivity. We must focus on the whole system that moves food from the farm to the consumer. 

Food safety is everyone’s business – and it’s the businesses that make up food systems that are the cornerstone for providing safe food. Today's food systems are increasingly more global, diverse and complex, involving an array of businesses from subsistence farming to multinational food companies. Everyone eats – therefore, everyone relies on local and global food systems. 

At this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, its impact on the most vulnerable populations and on food supply chains has mushroomed into a global concern. Senegal is no exception. 

Farm products pass through many hands on their way to consumers. Some are sold closer to the point of production in village markets, whereas some move through complex systems of aggregators, transporters, storage operators, and retailers, on their way to small towns and urban centers. As it moves through this system, food is susceptible to contamination and spoilage, resulting in seriously negative impacts on health, nutrition, economic development, and general well-being.

Local businesses within this system – micro, small, and medium- sized food enterprises (SMEs) – have the potential, however, to substantially reduce these negative effects by adopting better food safety standards and practices.

Food safety losses are related to both physical and quality losses, since the damage caused by unsafe handling practices can lead to both sorting out for physical losses, and to quality losses with associated loss of market value. Postharvest and food safety assessments were carried out using Commodity Systems Assessment Methodology (CSAM), which includes literature reviews, interviews and observations (LaGra et al 2016). Key informant interviews with experts, farmers, traders and extension workers in Ethiopia, Senegal, Rwanda and Nepal have revealed a wide range of food safety issues and associated SME business opportunities.