Social enterprise turns the forgotten food of the Sahel into quality foods

Sahara Sahel Foods is a social enterprise based in Niger that turns the fruits, seeds and leaves of Sahel’s wild trees into quality foods.

They make oils, flours, fruit powders, nuts, biscuits, sauce leaves, spices, jams and more.

The Sahel is home to many little-known native food trees that are well adapted to its climate. For instance, the hanza is a plant that contains more than 20% protein and has the same energy intake as rice. However, these food sources are often overlooked due to their deterrent look and colonial legacy.

Otherwise, most of this food needs processing to remove its bitter taste and make it attractive for locals and export. So, Sahara Sahel Food provides local communities with processing innovations and modern value chains to make this food production financially sustainable as part of Africa’s Great Green Wall project. The goal will then be to replicate, upscale and extend this model to new products and plants.

Why does it matter? Cultivating indigenous species leverages traditional agriculture methods and reduces irrigation costs. Moreover, it provides sustainable jobs for the local communities (mostly women) and increases food security while sequestrating carbon and fighting against desertification.

Sahara Sahel Foods’ model empowers locals to be part of the solution and reduces their reliance on imports or other external help.