Farim is a small village in the north of Guinea Bissau, situated on the banks of the Cacheu River, one of the most important rivers in the country. The local population primarily works in farming, animal husbandry and fishing, but during the dry season many women spend their days harvesting salt. Despite being more than 100 km away from the Atlantic coast, the Farim area is an important center for salt extraction. The long stretch of the Cacheu River from Farim to the ocean is actually a sea canal that creeps far inland, creating a basin of brackish water subject to the ebb and flow of the tides.
The salt forms on the exposed surface of the riverbed between November and May – and in particular between February and May – when the tide ebbs and a hot wind blows from the east. Local women collect the salt, filter it through pieces of fabric stretched over wooden frames (or, more rarely, using pierced clay pots) and boil the obtained brine to accelerate the evaporation of water. The long process is made difficult by the fact that the women who carry out the filtering and cooking live far away from the salt deposits (up to five kilometers). In addition to the exhausting transportation of the salty soil, they also need to collect mangrove wood to fuel the fire; this is becoming increasingly difficult to find. The collection of mangrove wood is also one of the causes of deforestation in the area. The women are now beginning to change to natural evaporation methods using shallow ponds.
Salt is produced for self-consumption and is sold at local markets.
With the Presidium, the women have committed to a shared production protocol that sets standards based on the traditional salt extraction process and commits to methods that safeguard the environment. To reduce wood use, Univers-Sel – an association of French salt producers who have been studying traditional methods for twenty years – is supporting Aprosal to adopt a natural evaporation-based method. Traditionally, the brine is boiled over wood fires to extract the salt, but this has had a signifi cant impact on local mangrove forests, which are slowly disappearing. The use of evaporation ponds presents a more sustainable and profitable alternative for the producers, who are usually forced to buy fi rewood and therefore reduce the profits from the sales of salt. The creation of reforestation nurseries is also one of the activities promoted by the Presidium.
Farim, Oio region
Univers Sel, Guérande
tel. +245 6057797