Aminata Dominique Diouf was seven years old when her father bought a small farm 15 minutes from the Senegal-Gambia border.
“At that age I didn’t really know what agriculture was,” she says. “I was just dazzled by the colours: running, jumping, touching, watching people working under the warm sun and the songs of birds.”
A few years later she got the chance to travel to the USA to visit her penpal and improve her English. Next to her penpal’s house was a large tract of land where she saw a man driving a tractor.
“I was surprised, amazed and full of questions so one day I decide to visit him. He explained why he chose this job instead of working in an office. Since that day I decided to be a farmer. I told my dad that I wanted to take over his mango farm when I graduated college,” says Aminata.
In 2017, at the age of 26 she did just that, becoming the CEO of Domaine Agricole de Nema. With 35 full-time employees, 20,000 mango trees and partners in five countries, Domaine Agricole de Nema has become one of Senegal’s largest agricultural estates and perhaps the only one with a woman at the helm.
- Aminata Dominique Diouf
The Domaine Agricole de Nema now has more than 150 employees and is highly mechanized. Located in the village of Nemanding in the Fatick region, it is a mere fifteen-minute drive from the Gambian border. The estate covers an area of 172 hectares, with three plots, called Kawsara, Khelkom and Nema
“We have been working with Aminata for the past 24 months, helping her fight white fly in her crops and introducing her to new markets for Senegalese mangoes,” says Cheikh Saadbouh Seck, Coordinator of National Implementation Unit of the Enhanced Integrated Framework at Senegal’s Ministry of Commerce.
The Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) seeks to support least developed countries improve their supply of products to the global market, strengthening employment, tackling poverty and taking vital steps forward in terms of socio-economic development.
Between 2012-2013, EIF identified that Senegal’s mango sector had a lot of untapped potential.
“At the time we were producing 150,000 tonnes of mangoes per year [in Senegal] but didn’t have the right certifications to export to international markets,” Seck says.
The mango project formulation started in 2013. Approved in August 2014 by EIF, it began being implemented in 2015.
“Since the beginning of this project in 2015 we’ve been working to build the standards needed to access these markets: providing technical training to farmers to improve their practices and building infrastructure such as ports, shipping services, storage and processing plants so Senegal can export a wide variety of mango products.”
In recent years, Senegal has become the second most important West African source of mangoes, after the Ivory Coast.