Senegal's Salt Queen tastes success in a man's world

by Reuters
Thursday, 23 May 2019 11:38 GMT

Marie Diouf, aka Salt Queen, carries a bag of harvested salt after it was iodized at her production site in Ndiemou on the outskirts of Fatick, Senegal May 15, 2019. Picture taken May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

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Marie Diouf, dubbed the 'Salt Queen' by locals, said women do not usually own shares in the salt flats. Now she employs men and women on her marshland

FATICK, Senegal, May 23 (Reuters) - Marie Diouf has built a business gathering salt from marshland she bought in Senegal, succeeding in a trade where most marsh owners are men and earning her the nickname "Salt Queen".

Diouf, 35, began her venture a decade ago, investing her savings to buy her own salt flats in Fatick, one of the West African nation's biggest salt mining regions.

An employee who works for Marie Diouf, aka the Salt Queen of Senegal, fills bags with iodized salt for sale at the packaging room in Ndiemou on the outskirts of Fatick, Senegal May 16, 2019. Picture taken May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

But there's a twist to the product she sells because she adds iodine, which helps brain development in young children. Most locally produced salt lacks the chemical. Canadian-based NGO Nutrition International trained Diouf on the process.

"At the start people thought: 'This woman will not succeed doing this'," said Diouf, a blue scarf wrapped around her head to protect her from the sun as she worked. "But I was brave enough to tell myself I was going to succeed."

Marie Diouf, aka Salt Queen, talks to her workers at her production site in Ndiemou on the outskirts of Fatick, Senegal May 15, 2019. Picture taken May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Diouf, dubbed the "Salt Queen" by locals, said women do not usually own shares in the salt flats. Now she employs men and women on her marshland.

Diouf aimed to produce a 1,000 tonnes of salt this season, which ends when the rains start, usually around June in the south of the country.

An employee, who works for Marie Diouf, aka Queen Salt, harvests salt at a production site in Ndiemou on the outskirts of Fatick, Senegal May 15, 2019. Picture taken May 15, 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

(Reporting by Yvonne Bell and Christophe Van Der Perre Writing by Juliette Jabkhiro Editing by Tim Cocks and Edmund Blair)

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