Shortening the hungry season in Senegal

31 August 2016 - Farmer Coumba Ndoffen Sene used to struggle to feed his family, but now he can pay his children’s school fees and buy them new clothes. He has also started a business raising chickens. Sene takes part in the IFAD-funded Agricultural Value Chains Support Project in Senegal.

One of the ideas behind the project is to encourage people to grow, eat and sell local crops rather than consuming imported grains like rice. By changing the way people think about food and enabling them to access markets, the project has helped transform the communities in which it works.

Sene was one of almost 9,000 farmers who received training in improved agricultural practices that produce higher yields and better-quality harvests. “Before we couldn’t even get to one ton of millet,” he says. “Now we produce two or three tons per year.” With project support, producer organizations brokered contracts with buyers.

Transaction costs on sales of millet, sesame, cowpeas and maize fell substantially, increasing profits. Small producers now earn more and consume and sell more locally grown products, and the region is becoming less dependent on imports. The hungry season has been shortened from six months to under a month. 

Farmer Coumba Ndoffen Sene took training to improve his yields and boost the family income Senegal: Agricultural Value Chains Support Project ©IFAD/Horaci Garcia Marti
Farmer Coumba Ndoffen Sene took training to improve his yields and boost the family income Senegal: Agricultural Value Chains Support Project ©IFAD/Horaci Garcia Marti

More than 5,000 previously unemployed people now have jobs, and 250,000 people have learned to grow, eat and sell local foods. Women are participating in agricultural production, processing and marketing activities and have better access to land. Over 800 women – and chefs in local hotels – have learned to cook with locally grown crops, which are more nutritious than imported products such as rice.

Women are starting new businesses, packaging products like baby porridge to be sold locally and nationally. In recognition of these achievements, the project won a 2015 IFAD Gender Award, highlighting its best practices in women’s empowerment. Many restaurants in the project area now offer only locally grown food.

Restaurant manager Aissatou Cisse sees this trend as the future for the country. “Our economy cannot grow if we keep importing,” she says. “We need to consume what’s produced here in Senegal.” Cisse won the 2015 President of Senegal Award for innovation.

 

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