June 16, 2005. The Rodale Institute’s
Senegal office – now known as New Farm Senegal -- has
been developing, testing and promoting regenerative agriculture
practices for small-scale farmers for 17 years. Staff members
have trained farmers and demonstrated techniques to adapt
these sustainable principles to Senegal’s widely differing
agro-ecological zones – from desert in the north to
tropics in the south.
The Rodale Institute works with these farmers to find success
based on their individual and community needs and their agricultural
context (soil type, organic matter availability, rainfall,
local cropping systems, nutritional needs, market options
and human resources).
Today we begin a series of stories giving the context of
this work, a bit of background, then 10 profiles of innovative
entrepreneurs (see sidebar for links to the stories). These
individuals represent crop and livestock farmers and value-added
food retailers who have been trained by New Farm Senegal directly,
or are members of groups which collaborate with The Rodale
The opening story in the series is the first of three that
set the stage for understanding agriculture in Senegal, and
how The Rodale Institute has been involved in bringing a regenerative
and community based perspective to it.
In recent years the program has emphasized women’s
participation in development activities. In a three-year project
funded by the Vanderbilt Foundation beginning in 2000, these
regenerative strategies were applied to integrated crop-livestock
operations operated by women in five villages in the Thiès
and Diourbel regions.
The project included technical training, exchange visits,
infrastructure development (such as improving irrigation systems
and fencing), reforestation, and micro-finance entrepreneurship.
The Rodale Institute women’s program succeeded because
of our dedicated female staff, led by Mme. Diagne Sarr. She
was formerly employed by the national Ministry of Women, Family,
and Social Development.
The Institute’s New Farm Senegal program is exploring
opportunities to continue research, demonstration, training
and information outreach on regenerative agriculture for Senegal’s
farmers. Organic farming appears to be a bright spot for value-added
marketing if the infrastructure develops in a farmer-friendly
New Farm Senegal has a long history of positive collaborations
with national and local government entities, national and
international non-profit organizations and farmer groups.