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.