May 2012

Pascal Adisson, Representative of the Ministry of Agriculture, Bureau Agricole Communale, Anse Rouge

“One important component of the ESPRI-Sel strategy is to provide traditional salt producers with extensive and ongoing training to increase the quality and quantity of their salt harvests. The accompaniment of the traditional producers when establishing the new salt production methods in the area is of utmost importance in order to maintain the social balance, preserve local livelihoods, and ensure that the large-scale social entrepreneurship complements the private sector rather than competing with it.

In order to ensure that the ESPRI-Sel strategy addresses all the needs of the main stakeholders, AMURT and the DDA (Direction Départemental de l’Agriculture) conducted a needs analysis of a sample of 80 traditional producers owning basins adjacent to the social entrepreneurship facility. The majority of these

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producers agreed that the ESPRI-Sel strategy would benefit their communities, and requested that it engages and benefits them directly as well. Based on this feedback, AMURT and the DDA have designed and started delivering an ongoing training already very appreciated by the producers who have benefited from it.

The objective of the training is to ensure that each of the 20 participants understands in a practical sense how to improve the quality and quantity of their salt harvest by incorporating simple modifications to their individual basins. During the first two days of theory the participants learn the basics of salt production, including measuring of salinity levels, salt hygiene factors, formation of Calcium and Magnesium, and other principles of modernized salt production.  These two days are followed by a day of practice in the field, during which the participants experiment in a selected sample basin by creating a small and replicable individual modern production system.  The second phase of the training consists of an evaluation of the newly acquired methods of production and their application by the producers, in order to ensure that they are properly assimilated and implemented.

A second training module will enable the producers to go one step further in increasing their production by connecting their basins to one another.  An additional training will focus on the training of trainers, in order to facilitate the DDA in training and accompanying all the producers of the area in this transition process.  Finally, a special training targeting women harvesters will help them improve their harvesting methods through protection of both their health and their harvests.

Transitioning towards modernized salt production also requires some interesting shifts in the cultural and social aspects of traditional production.  Traditionally, the producers are used to producing individually, while the new method requires them to begin cooperating with adjacent basin owners over time in order to create small associations with interconnected basins.  The ESPRI-Sel mechanism strives to gradually guide these producers into understanding the importance of cooperation, and the huge advantages this can lead to for all.  The producers have greeted with enthusiasm the incentives offered by the ESPRI-Sel to newly formed producers associations which are to help them market their salt and giving them a guarantee for their harvests if and when they decide to engage into modern methods of production.  Since then a growing number of producers have begun considering the possibilities of working together in cooperative production methods.

This training carries tremendous importance, because the producers realize that without adjusting to the demand for clean salt, they will isolate themselves and will loose their market, and thus their main source of income.  This explains the demand AMURT is beginning to receive for this training even amongst producers who have not been invited in the first sample group of eighty participants”.