DG Takamoul Food "We felt the pandemic"

Ms. Cheikh Ameth Tidiane Sy, Managing Director of Takamoul Food Africa, a company specializing in the agri-food industry, including the production of double concentrate of tomato and ketchup, comments on the operation of his company during this period of COVID-19.

How do you feel about the current situation marked by the COVID-19 pandemic?

As a natural person, but also as an entrepreneur, we were surprised by the turn of events and the speed of the pandemic. In the face of this situation, we have complied with the recommendations of the public authorities and medical staff first at the individual level, limiting our movements to the bare minimum, at the enterprise level, by putting in place a response plan as set out by the Ministry of Labour, including systematic temperature control at the entrance of the factory, increase of washing points in the workplace and measures of distance. At this level, we had some difficulties at some workstations at the factory that did not allow us to meet the minimum distance. We've adapted to each other.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your company and the Tomato sector where you operate, among others?

Like all industries, we felt the pandemic. Although, in the immediate future, we are less impacted than companies operating in the tourism and air transport sectors.
In terms of input supply, the pandemic found us in the middle of the campaign to collect fresh tomatoes from the Senegal River Valley. So far, the tomato industry has not been heavily impacted by the pandemic due to the successful integration of the value chain, at least with regard to the local tomato. But it is clear that we will soon be caught up in the lack of local production of fresh tomatoes to meet the needs of the three industries present in the sector.
This pandemic has revealed, if need be, that the salvation of our economy lies in the development of agricultural value chains based on the processing of our local products. This protects us from exogenous shocks and ensures us a better resilience in the face of endogenous stresses.
On the other hand, at the commercial level, we are feeling strongly the impact of the pandemic with restrictions on long distance travel and the early closure of markets that limit our distribution capacity. The impact on our sales is direct with a 50% decrease in our turnover from the first fortnight of the curfew. Similarly, recovery and commercial exploration are slow, which has a significant impact on our cash flow and meeting our commitments to our financial partners and suppliers.
Added to this is the increase in our unbudgeted expenses, the impact of the reduction in working hours because of the curfew which will inevitably have an impact on our operating results.

Hasn't there affected your company's inventory or normal input supply and production?

Although, as I speak, there is still no impact on our input and finished inventory, we have no visibility into the months ahead. The fresh tomato collection campaign has not revealed all its facets, but it is clear that it will be worse than in previous years, which will increase the import requirements for triple tomato concentrate for the three local industries.
With this pandemic, we have no control over international prices that are likely to soar, as does the cost of maritime freight. This will severely affect the competitiveness of our companies which is already affected by the exorbitant cost of energy and the heavy taxation.
The greatest uncertainty is the lack of planning, because as you know, managing is planning. In the absence of certainty about the timing of the health crisis, we cannot take any management action based on clear planning, with all that entails as the risk of a breakdown of input stocks and its long-term consequences on our operation.

(source Editorial July 2020)