Sitting on the back of a donkey by the gate of his farm, Boubacar Diallo welcomes us with a broad smile. His farm on the roadside in Djinkoré Baba Gallé, a small village in eastern Senegal. As soon as we enter the farm, we can hear the rustle of chickens feeding in the poultry farm next to his large and beautiful market garden, and we are captivated by its greenery. Boubacar Diallo is a twenty-four-year-old agricultural entrepreneur. He owns two plots of land. One is dedicated to field crops, while the other allows him to do market gardening and poultry farming.
For as long as he can remember, Boubacar practised seasonal farming, and at the end of each season he moved to cities such as Saint Louis and Kayar to engage in poultry and market gardening activities. However, Boubacar had greater ambitions, and wanted to be more successful. Thus, in 2018, at the age of twenty, he left Senegal to join Europe via Libya. But unfortunately, his journey stopped as he was arrested by the Algerian police and taken to the country’s border with Mali. From then on, there was only one possible solution for this young man: to return. In 2020, he decided to go to the city of Gao to return to his country of origin. In Gao, the International Red Cross took care of him for a week and put him in touch with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which did what was necessary to enable Boubacar to receive voluntary return and reintegration in Senegal.
As part of his reintegration under the “EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration”, Boubacar set up a micro-agricultural business. He engages in large-scale farming by sowing millet, maize, groundnuts, and cotton. This seasonal activity is a great success, as it allows him to support his wife and parents, but also finance the purchase of new seeds. On the other hand, having entrepreneurship in the soul, Boubacar is aware that seasonal farming only lasts four months out of twelve and that he has eight more months to optimize his incomes. Therefore, in 2021 he felt it necessary to diversify his activities by starting market gardening and poultry farming.
Today, Boubacar works all year round and makes a profit from his business. “I am now able to support my family and myself. I am also very useful to my community,” he says, looking proud and happy.
The launch of the project, which provides integrated support to micro and small enterprises of returnees in the Tambacounda Region, comes at the right time for Boubacar. The assistance he receives in this context includes technical training in agri-food, assistance in incubating his entrepreneurial project, financial and material support, as well as support in participating in networking activities. With this in mind, Boubacar participated in job fairs on agriculture and entrepreneurship, which made a strong impression on him. “Taking part in these events reinforced my conviction that I can make it in my country. I met and exchanged with people who have managed to build agricultural businesses and increase their incomes. So, there are real opportunities for success in Senegal,” says Boubacar.
Boubacar is just as optimistic about the support he receives through this project: “This project is useful! It allows all the beneficiaries and me to organize ourselves and understand all issues related to our business activities to better sustain and develop them. Moreover, we are supervised by competent professionals and will soon benefit from material and financial support. So, what more could we ask for?” The future looks bright for Boubacar, who, full of hope, aims to boost youth employability in his region and serve as a model to encourage them to invest, work and succeed at home.
IOM contributes to the creation of economic opportunities and productive employment for returnees and young people in Senegal within the framework of the project “Consolidation of achievements in reintegration of returnees to Senegal through integrated support to micro and small enterprises”, funded by the Czech Republic. IOM Senegal is supporting, among others, twenty returnees who became agricultural entrepreneurs in the Tambacounda region.
This story was written by Abdoulaye Mamadou Soukouna, Project Assistant (Communication) at the Tambacounda Sub-office.