In 1996, when the Senegalese National Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA) was desperately looking for seed production specialists who could produce high quality foundation seed of all the rice varieties released in the country, it turned to Madame Peinda Cissé, a rice seed producer, who rose to the challenge.
Madame Cissé is the Founder-President of a farming women’s association called FEPRODES, which brings together thousands of women involved in rice seed development to get better access to credit, technologies and trade opportunities.
The seed produced by FEPRODES has been distributed in Mauritania and Guinea Bissau to reactivate rice production in those countries after civil conflicts. The association has multiplied seed of all the popular ‘Sahel’ rice series, including aromatic varieties, developed by AfricaRice and its partners. The Sahel varieties cover more than 85% of the Senegal River Valley.
FEPRODES has its own training center for seed production and micro-credit system and has helped to increase the incomes and improve the quality of life of its members, lifting them from the position of being the most deprived and poverty-stricken in rural society.
It has trained women processors in Senegal in improved rice parboiling techniques with the help of AfricaRice. Members have also received training in gender-mainstreaming, which they are passing on to others using a value-chain approach.
Recognizing Madame Cissé as a leading and inspiring figure for women seed producers in West Africa, the Third Africa Rice Congress held in October 2013 in Yaoundé, Cameroon, presented her with the Outstanding Rice Entrepreneur Award for Seed Production.
She is also a co-recipient of the 2003 Presidential Prize for Science and Technology in Senegal for the development of the ASI thresher-cleaner, which is now widely used in several African countries.
On the occasion of the 2014 International Women’s Day, whose theme is “Equality for women is progress for all,” AfricaRice salutes Madame Cissé and all the pioneering women rice producers like her, who are helping to take Africa forward.