Easing imports of agri-food inputs

Digitalising key processes for plant-based products


The Impacts

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.

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

  • reduces the time involved with importing seeds and other plant products by up to nine hours
  • saves traders as much as 20% on the average overall cost associated with seed and plant product imports – US$ 33 a permit
  • improves border agency cooperation
  • improves Senegal’s competitiveness in the agro-industrial sector
  • expanding opportunities for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) by cutting the cost and time associated with importing seeds and other plant products
  • supports development across the agricultural sector.

The project will also contribute towards Senegal’s implementation of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement and will support the government in strengthening commercial compliance.

The initiative also complements another completed Alliance project that similarly enhances the competitiveness of plant product exports in Senegal.

The Challenge

In Senegal, the added-value processing of products based on groundnut seeds, sugar cane, rice, potatoes, fruit, vegetables, and other plant-based ingredients makes a vital contribution to the country’s economy.

As part of an ongoing strategy to enhance food security and boost its economy, the West African country is working towards reducing its 70% reliance on imported produce while simultaneously increasing exports. Imported seeds and plant products are essential inputs for agricultural production but completing the necessary paperwork inflated time and cost, undermining competitiveness.

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 between application and issuance. Then, they would have to spend more time awaiting documentary inspections when the shipments arrived.

In general, the Department of Plant Protection (DPV) was expected to process an application within 24 hours, but it could take several days, extending the time required to complete this preliminary formality.

What We Did

In partnership with DPV, Customs, technical experts Gaindé 2000, and local and international agri-food companies, this 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 national single window, allowing businesses to submit an authorisation request online and receive an answer within 24 hours.

The second process, which also uses the single window, removed the need for the physical transfer of a shipment’s official report between DPV and Customs. This not only saves traders time and reduces the administrative burden but mitigates the risk that documents might be lost en route.

The Alliance collaborated with local stakeholders in Senegal by: ​

  • Providing the necessary technical support to automate the import process through the national single window
  • ​Catalysing public private partnership through collaborative dialogue events, training sessions and workshops
  • Bolstering change management through new forums for inter-agency cooperation and activities hosted by the National Trade Facilitation Committee (NTFC).


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