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Improved oil extraction of drought-tolerant date palm tree in Niger

Impacts addressed:



A woman from the Magou Cooperative performing the oil extraction process with other members

Local name of practise: Garbaye gui dan lamti gui

Country/region/village: Niger/Tillabéry/Magou

Community: CU de Torodi


Droughts and erratic rainfall have led to a decline in agricultural productivity in the Tillabéry region in Niger. In these semi-arid zones of Niger, in the Magou community, a group of women have improved the management of drought tolerant species named “date palm tree” (Balanites aegyptiaca), also called date palm tree of the desert, through a participatory conservation scheme and enhanced oil extraction technology. This ecosystem-based adaptation technology contributes to the climate resilience of Magou community and their food security in response to the adverse effect of recurrent drought in the area (weak agricultural productivity, low income, latent food insecurity and high climate vulnerability). It also helps conserve the Sahelian forest cover which is dominated by the date palm tree. Practiced for decades, the sharing of knowledge and experiences are generally done through practical training initiated by women for the benefit of young girls in the village. The technology has been improved with the assistance of financial and technical partners.


The recurrent early dry and erratic rainfall season deepen the latent climate vulnerability of Magou community and its forest ecosystem and existing agricultural lands. To reverse these climate adverse effects, women of Magou, the municipality of Tillabéry and technical partner initiated and implemented an ecosystem based adaptation technology focused on the protection of "date palm of the desert" (Balanites) and an improved oil extraction processing of this drought tolerant species in such semi-arid zones. 
The technology consists of a combination of:

  • Permanent conservation and protection of shrubs and trees of Balanites within the soil ecosystem of Tillabery district: the women cooperative organize regular pruning of low level branches to foster the vegetative development of this species which is well adapted in such arid climatic environment very common in Sahelian countries
  • Improved harvesting process including the collection of mature kernels 
  • Processing of kernels collected: skilled women and girls in a cooperative carry out a step-to-step chain including the crushing phase, the manual sorting up to the powdery form of kernels. After these preparatory phase, the boiling and stirring phase of the powdery substance allow the separation of the oil. The yield from oil extraction varies between 38.53 and 50.56% with an average of 44.5%.

The technical performance of the oil extraction is being improved with the participatory research development scheme performed with the women cooperative. A new oil drill had been successfully tested and improved in such a way that the physical labor force was reduced tremendously compared to the traditional oil extraction equipment. Women cooperatives have been able to reverse the degradation trends of forest and land ecosystem of Tillabery and to enhance their climate resilience. Indeed, the improved extraction of oil from the "date palm tree of the desert" (Balanites aegyptiaca) constitutes a forest ecosystem-based adaptation technology in semi-arid zones.
The product is sold at 3000 FCFA (6 USD) per liter in average. Production potential on average is 3 liters/woman/day. 

The Magou community, especially women, have local knowledge on the protection of Balanites tree, the collection of date palm tree kernels either on the ground or by harvesting. They are also skilled in oil extraction with the equipment that have developed and smoothly adapted to lessen the intensive physical labor force needed with the traditional equipment used before. The women of Magou managed to produce a film and participated in rural radio programs to raise awareness on the benefits (revenue generation) of this technology. Revenues from the sale of date palm and Sesame oil are in themselves a resilience strategy to the adverse effects of climate variability and change in the Tillabery area. Benefiting from training sessions on cash management and administrative management techniques, date palm and sesame oil producers have managed to set up associations ensuring the sustainable operation of collection and processing activities as well as the sale of the finished product.

Benefits of the technology

  • Climate resilience through increased oil sales and conservation of the date palm ecosystem
  • Improved social cohesion with the formation of women's groups
  • Institutional benefits: a functional women's cooperative providing administrative and financial management
  • Abundance of date palm and its tolerance for drought
  • High demand for oil on the national market (very popular for the therapeutic and cosmetic purposes)

Gender considerations

The deployment of technology is almost completely driven by the women of Magou. In fact, active women are organized within cooperative units and are responsible for the protection of shrubs and existing Balanites trees. The harvesting and processing of kernels are also conducted through the cooperative. Indeed, the income generated from the selling of oil final product are managed through a benefit sharing mechanism established by the women cooperative.

Potential for technology transfer and up-scaling

  • Identification and practical training of groups of well-targeted actors (committed and motivated)
  • Awareness raising on methods of monitoring and protection of the date palm ecosystem (sustainable exploitation of nuts)
  • Appropriate marketing to improve sale strategies
  • Facilitate exchange field visits between practitioners within West Africa, e.g.  Niger and Senegal 
  • Improving technical packaging of the date palm and sesame oil from Magou community

Potential barriers:

  • Limited marketing strategy for oil in the markets,
  • Lack of appropriate branding
  • Limited knowledge of packaging techniques of the finished product
  • Lack of knowledge about collecting good date palm kernels
  • Labour intensive and simple tools used in crushing(pestle, mortar)
  • Low investment capacity


Agarwal; Avinash, «biofuels aplications as fuels for internal combustion engines,» vol. 33, pp. 233-271, 2009
Mahamat Boukar, A. 2014. Optimisation de la production d’huile de balanites de Barsalogho,  Master d’Ingenierie de l’eau et de l’environnement, Institut International d’Ingénierie de l’Eau et de l’Environnement, 40p.