Easing imports of agri-food inputs

Digitalising key processes for plant-based products


This project supported Senegal’s efforts to grow its agricultural sector by cutting the costs and time associated with importing seeds and plants that are essential inputs for production. Traders had to travel 20km from the Port of Dakar to a government office to obtain import permits, a cumbersome paper-based process that could take anywhere from one to seven days to reach approval. They spent more time later awaiting documentary inspections when the shipments arrived.

It complements another project already underway that aims at enhancing the competitiveness of plant product exports in Senegal.


In partnership with Senegal’s Department of Plant Protection (DPV) at the Ministry of Agriculture, Customs, technical experts Gaindé 2000, and local and international agri-food companies, our project digitalised two key import processes for plant-based products and, initially, selected seeds: onions, orange sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and potatoes.

The first of these is pre-shipment authorisation, which was digitalised and integrated into the Orbus single window, allowing businesses to submit their authorisation request online and receive an answer within 24 hours.

The second process removed the need for the physical transfer of the shipment’s official report between DPV and Customs, which is instead channelled via the single window system. This not only saves time but reduces the risk that documents might be lost en route.


By digitalising key processes, Senegalese traders, farmers, distributors, and small businesses are benefiting from a more transparent and predictable experience, cutting delays and removing the need for them to make multiple trips to confer with officials from different agencies along the way. The project is:

  • reducing the time involved with importing seeds and other plant products by up to one day
  • saving traders as much as 20% on the average overall cost associated with seed and plant product imports
  • improving border agency cooperation
  • improving Senegal’s competitive advantages in the agro-industrial sector
  • expanding opportunities for small and medium enterprises by cutting the cost and time associated with importing seeds and other plant products, supporting development across the agricultural sector

Developed as part of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’s Partnership Programme for Employment and the Promotion of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SI Jobs) initiative, the project also aims to contribute to the government’s Emerging Sustainable Plan, including the creation of sustainable jobs in the agricultural sector.


The project is being assessed using the Alliance’s Total Trade and Logistics Cost (TTLC) methodology. In addition to assessing impacts across 10 direct costs, such as duties, tariffs, and fees, the TTLC approach looks at changes in a dozen indirect costs relating to lost time, including impacts from idle trucks, late delivery penalties, and extra storage and inventory charges. The TTLC methodology can show how reforms that target indirect costs can have a multiplying effect by preventing further delays longer lead times further downstream in value chains.

Project Structure

Phase 1


Analysis, design, and development of automated processes using international best practice

Phase 2


Implementation and evaluation

Get involved

Find out more about how to get involved with the Alliance. Click on the relevant icon:

Contact us