Napierville – At Uniag Cooperative, the month of October witnessed an enriching intercultural experience. Dieynaba Oumar Anne, a young Senegalese woman aged 34, undertook a twelve-week internship in Canada, coordinated by the Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI). Her objective? To acquire valuable skills and knowledge in the management and governance of agricultural cooperatives, and bring them back to Senegal, where the country is currently in the process of creating an agricultural cooperative. Her stay in Quebec was made possible thanks to the reciprocal internship program of the Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI).

Reciprocal internships represent a unique opportunity for a person involved in an organization in a partner country to come into contact with another culture and integrate into the community. This opportunity enables the intern to gain significant personal and professional experience through intercultural exchange and contact with people working in their own sphere of activity. Dieynaba Oumar Anne’s internship is thus the result of an international cooperation initiative designed to promote intercultural exchange and the transmission of know-how. Senegal, like many other African countries, sees agricultural cooperatives as a promising model for stimulating economic growth, improving living conditions for farmers, and promoting food security.

Dieynaba Oumar Anne works for the Agence Nationale d’Insertion et de Développement Agricole (ANIDA) in Senegal, a government institution committed to promoting agriculture and rural development. Her role with ANIDA led her to take an active part in setting up an agricultural cooperative in Senegal. It was therefore with great enthusiasm that she accepted this internship opportunity in Canada, with the ambition of acquiring new skills to contribute to the success of the cooperative project in Senegal.

CECI played a key role in coordinating this internship, establishing a partnership with Uniag Cooperative, an agricultural cooperative in Montérégie-Ouest and Eastern Ontario, which opened its doors in Dieynaba. Uniag Cooperative offers products and services to dairy, field crop and vegetable producers in the region. When CECI approached them about participating in this program, the Uniag Cooperative team enthusiastically agreed to share their knowledge and experience of cooperative management and governance.

During her five-week internship with Uniag, Dieynaba had the opportunity to visit various farms belonging to the cooperative’s members. She witnessed the corn harvest, explored a dairy farm in transition to robotic milking, discovered the secrets of a maple grove, and immersed herself in the workings of a large vegetable farm. What impressed Dieynaba most was the automation and use of farm machinery, aspects that are still not widespread in Senegal. This experience enabled her to discover the efficiency and productivity benefits that these technologies bring to Canadian agriculture.

The young Senegalese also took part in training sessions on cooperative management, associative life, decision-making, accounting and other fundamental aspects of cooperative governance.

Dieynaba’s internship with Uniag Cooperative was a transformative experience for both her and her Canadian hosts. On her return to Senegal, Dieynaba Oumar Anne will bring concrete knowledge and tools that will contribute to the success of the agricultural cooperative project. This internship is an inspiring example of how intercultural exchange can positively shape the future of global agriculture.