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UNIVERS-SEL is a non-profit organisation, recognised for its usefulness, most members of which are salt marsh workers from Guérande.
UNIVERS-SEL stems from a long history of people, concerned about their environment, who share strong values. Quite naturally, since 1989, the salt marsh workers from Guérande have been developing jointly with southern producers.
UNIVERS-SEL supports salt and rice producers in the South, namely in mangrove areas.
The association has operated in Benin, Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mauritania and within the framework of short missions throughout the world.
Solar salt production
An answer to salt production issues in mangroves
In mangrove areas, producers scrape the surface of salted lands, and filter what they harvest with seawater. This brine is then heated over fire (fuel-based evaporation) to extract the salt.
This method consumes 3 tonnes of mangrove wood to produce 1 tonne of salt. The solar technique is simple: instead of using firewood to crystallise the salt, the brine is poured onto 10 m² tarpaulin where natural evaporation occurs, spurred by the sun and wind.
Solar crop production:
The tarpaulin costs very little and can be used to produce up to one tonne of salt per tarp and per season.
The solar salt production technique can be easily adopted by producers, with extremely positive effects on the environment and farmer health. It also significantly increases producer revenues. Currently, in Guinea, solar salt production represents close to 30% of national production.
A few figures:
- 30% of Guinean sea salt is produced using the solar technique, which is gradually replacing fuel-based evaporation.
- 4,000 tonnes of solar-produced salt can help save over 12,000 tonnes of firewood every year and encourages mangrove regeneration.
Rice culture in mangrove areas
PVC pipes were fitted all around the rice paddies to improve water management.
Harvest safety and improved yield stem from controlled water management in the rice paddies.
Thanks to the introduction of a simple plot-specific water management technique and local support for producers, close to 10,000 hectares of rice paddies have been redesigned or refitted since the early 2000s.
Investment costs - based on the purchase of PVC pipes and ducts and human capital - are low.
The technique can easily be adopted by producers and allows for wide-scale application in appropriate environments.
UNIVERS-SEL's involvement helped fight against mangrove degradation, whilst increasing rice paddy yield and improving the farmers' revenue and living conditions.
A few figures for Guinea over the last 10 years:
- Close to 10,000 hectares of traditional rice crops in mangrove areas that were redesigned or refitted
- Production gains worth about 1 tonne per hectare contribute to improving food sovereignty in Guinea, which imports 400,000 tonnes of rice per year
- A significant development potential, estimated at more than 100,000 ha
Education & development
Transmitting our experience of sustainable development.
UNIVERS-SEL, through its actions, contributes to transmitting the notions of solidarity, exchanges, know-how, respect for the environment and human dignity via educational actions regarding development.
- Salt flat visits
- Exhibitions during events
- Meetings with academics
- A teaching toolkit designed for primary and secondary schools
- A participatory video for all audiences.