Mali is a landlocked country. But the river banks of the immense Niger, which crosses it, includes a large part of its population and its economic activity. In the regions of Ségou and Mopti, the river and its branches have been exploited for centuries by traditional nomadic fisheries, which follow the migration of fish, mainly tilapia and catfish. An activity that is developing, under the banner of a new brand known as Ouradi.
While the men fish, the women process the fish and then go to sell it in markets, sometimes very far away. Cooked in sauce, boiled or stewed, smoked or dried fish is a basic ingredient in Malian cuisine. A trend that tends to increase since the rise in the price of imported meat.
1 000 transformers
To enable the development of their activities, several fishing and processing cooperatives have joined forces in the framework of the Fisheries Sector Support Project (PAFHa+), launched in 2018 with the support of the European Union (EU) and the Belgian and French cooperation. PAFHa+ covers the entire fisheries sector, from resource management to marketing. In this case, we are interested in the fate of the fish once it has been caught.
A thousand women processors have been trained, made aware and equipped with six high-performance smoking racks each. In each village or fishing camp, a young person learned to fashion a “Chorkor” oven with local materials, to meet the standards of the new smoking method.
“The benefit of this technic is that it is the best quality of smoked fish,” explains Madany Daffé, bioengineer at the Teriya Bugu integrated center and general secretary of the Ouradi association. “The fish is cleaned, gutted, then brined before undergoing homogeneous smoking for 24 hours, cold smoking, without flames and therefore without risk of calcination. This smoking technic also consumes much less wood. Thanks to this process, the fish can be preserved for 6 to 8 months, and this without chemicals. Because it was one of the problems to be solved: in the hope to prolonging the expirity date of its fish, the sector tended to abuse chemicals and insecticides, with risks that we can imagine for the health of consumers... »
These well-prepared, well-smoked and healthy fish just needed to be sold. To do so, the cooperatives of women processors, grouped into five geographical hubs, joined forces in December 2021 with two market intermediaries (ODPA-DIN in Mopti and AEDR/Teriya Bugu in Ségou). Their role: to supervise the processors, receive the smoked fish, control the quality of the fish, package it, and market it in the distribution circuits. The name of this association: Ouradi.
Thanks to the launch of this association, the women processors will no longer have to travel many kilometers to sell their fish from market to market. Furthermore, thanks to this association new business opportunities will emerge for these women.
This is where we mark the originality of the project, because Ouradi is not just the name of a trade association. Ouradi is also the name of a brand, launched in May 2022 and intended to conquer the regional market. Market study, logo, labeling, biodegradable packaging, communication agency, marketing campaign, website (soon), promotional film... Everything has been put in place to enable Ouradi to ensure its qualitative and secure positioning in a market segment shaken by food poisoning caused by improperly smoked fish.
"I am sure it will work out well," concludes Madany Daffé with confidence.