Sustainable in Senegal
Innovations in sustainability mark The Rodale Institute work in Senegal

Women’s farming groups, in particular, benefit from training and
micro-credit initiatives. Building on our long history in Senegal, we've produced a series of articles and profiles telling some of the story of sustainable farming in the country.

By Amadou Makhtar Diop, Technical Director/New Farm Senegal coordinator

Where we've been:

A rich slice of sustainability in Senegal:
The Rodale Institute® showed this American agriculture student the critical need for soil innovative soil saving practices in West Africa.

 

The Thiawene farmers' focus group makes plans while shelling cowpeas, a leguminous cover crop. At left is Mme. Diagne Sarr, who directed the Vanderbilt project work for New Farm Senegal to build capacity within village women’s agricultural groups. Photo by Nathan McClintock

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 Institute staff.

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 way.

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.