• Elise Atindokpo Hounguè : From "Dèguè" Yoghurt to pumpkin seed oil

    Food processing is a sector in which several business women operate in Benin as is the case of Mrs Elise Atindokpo Hounguè. After the “Dèguè” experience (yoghurt made from the mixture of milk and millet, Mrs Elise Atindokpo Hounguè devoted herself to the fabrication of oil made from pumpkin seed. This production has received certification from Direction de l'alimentation et de la nutrition appliquée (DANA) {Direction for Food and Applied Nutrition) but still remains home-made.

    “Thanks to the oil made from pumpkin seed that was in competition with other oils in 2003, I was congratulated by the Minister of “industrie et du commerce” at that time when I received the first prize awarded for food from “Salon national de l'artisanat du Bénin” (SNAB 2003). This recognition gave me the opportunity to be selected by “Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest Africaine” (UEMOA) to participate at a food fair in Morocco”. On this subject, Mrs Elise Atindokpo Hounguè states, ‘I received the offer to produce one ton of pumpkin seed oil for a year from moroccans industries specialised in the production of canned sardine and cosmetics but I could not match this demand due to the fact that my production home-made...'

    Five years after this lost opportunity, Mrs. Atindokpo is still manufacturing home-made pumpkin seed oil. Unfulfilled promises by the authorities made her weary and now her only hope is seeking funds the size fit for a production in industrial quantity of this oil which is abundant in virtues according to her explanation.

    Indeed, pumpkin seed oil is "an edible oil which has same properties as olive oil” but the value of this oil is more known on the online shop - djfusion.fr, Mrs. Atindokpo maintained.

    Regarded as ‘food supplements' in France at the end of the Decree n° 2006-352 of March 20, 2006; “pumpkin seed oil is characterized by its wealth of linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid in the regulation of inflammatory processes and sterols that inhibit the growth of prostate tissue, which earned it its excellent properties against prostate hypertrophy. Seed marrow oil, emphasizing the same source, is also effective in preventing dental decay and decalcification because it stimulates osteogenesis or bone calcification. Its wealth of essential fatty acid (oleic and linoleic acids), makes it possible to regulate the presence of unsaturated fatty-acids. It has a beneficial effect on kidney function and worm properties. It is also known to have an alleviating and purifying effect on the digestive system”.

    The press awaits

    Unable to produce industrial quantities of pumpkin seed oil, for which she has acquired solid expertise, Mrs Elise Atindokpo Hounguè must concentrate on home-made production. To do this, she narrates how she solicited and obtained in 2006 an appointment with the Minister of ‘agriculture et du développement rural' (Agriculture and Rural Development) sanctioned by the pledge of a press machine to help her with the transformation of raw material.  This commitment from the agricultural authority is doubtlessly slow to materialize, "but it is on its track to fruition" confirms Mrs. Atindokpo with faith.

    While waiting to be in possession of this tool which will allow her to produce in large quantity, Mrs Atindokpo is limited to produce at the demand of her customers. In addition to the oil extract, the seed cake grains are processed. It is actually the solid shafts obtained after oil extraction, which are conserved and used to manufacture a kind of snack that is very pleasant to eat. Known in ‘Goun' the local language as “Avlouda”, Mrs. Atindokpo considers it as, “most worthy of her product”.
    It should be noted that Mrs. Atindokpo is confronted with the problem of packaging, precisely the approximate quality of the oil cans which she commercialises on the market. For this purpose, she requests the support of any structure likely to help her improve. Already, in “Association des femmes chefs d'entreprise du Bénin”(AFACEB) of which she is a member and of Chambre de commerce et d'industrie du Bénin (CCIB), she received updating training. But if the company takes off as she wishes, raw material would be needed she says. Consequently, the production of pumpkin seeds remains a field to develop in Benin as pointed out by Mrs. Atindokpo.

    Hippolyte Djiwan/ Expert CT/PASP

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