Senegal – eighth country to join the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology

Share this to :

CIRAD, the French agricultural research and cooperation organization working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions and ISRA, the Senegalese institute for agricultural research, will be implementing activities to contribute to the scaling of agroecological transitions that are already well underway in Senegal.

It is the eights country to join the CGIAR Initiative on Agroecology which operates already in India, Lao, Kenya, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, and Peru.

Credit: R. Belmin / CIRAD

Rainfed mixed farming systems under pressure

While agriculture contributes 15-20% to the country’s GDP, rainfed farming is of low productivity due to difficult input access and high level of soil degradation. Environmental degradation and climate change are affecting this fragile ecosystem. Sustainable practices, drought-resistant crops and climate-smart technologies are key solutions to this problem. In addition, diversifying agriculture can improve food security, create jobs for young people and boost economic growth for rural livelihoods.

Senegal’s population will double by 2050 and urbanization will exceed 50%, increasing demand for food and affecting food preferences and consumption. Food sovereignty and security are top priorities for the country.

Fatick: An emerging Agroecological Living Landscape

In Senegal, an informal network of local stakeholders, NGOs and institutions established a national movement promoting agroecological transition (Dynamique pour une Transition Agroécologique au Sénégal – Dytaes) in 2019 with emphasis on endogenous knowledge and production system activities. The network facilitates partnerships between academia and NGOs proposing agroecology initiatives, and since 2021, it operates at local levels through DyTAELs. One example is the Fatick DyTAEL where the Agroecology Initiative is starting to operate. In Fatick, local stakeholders have successfully formed associations promoting agroecology, currently implementing a work plan to expand local agroecological knowledge and practices with numerous ongoing projects. The local network also raises awareness among the administrative and political authorities.

Map: Fatick region in Senegal
Map: Fatick region in Senegal

The long experience of this department with agroecology practices highlights its commitment to sustainable agriculture”, says Jean Daniel Cesaro of CIRAD, and country lead for the Agroecology Initiative. A survey conducted by DESIRA FairSahel project found that 50% of Fatick’s farmers already implement at least three agroecology practices, which is significantly higher than the 20% in other departments. “Regional stakeholders are motivated to exchange knowledge and promote the recognition of agroecology practices in agriculture livelihoods and local business and value chains”, Cesaro says.

The ISRA and CIRAD partnership

The multidisciplinary team from CIRAD and ISRA that will engage and work with stakeholders in the region is composed of agronomists, geographers, economists, sociologists, and political scientists. Their aim is to overall co-design with Fatick DyTAEL stakeholders agroecological solutions (like agro-forestry, crop-livestock integration, ecological collective actions) that restore resources, improve yield at territorial scale, and increase the value of local food system to make rainfed agriculture attractive. Priority will be given to milk and millet production and value chains as major commodities of local food system and as a good example of livestock-agriculture integration products. Activities will be implemented within the framework of the Fatick DyTAEL action plan, and focus initially on stakeholder mapping, context assessments, preparations of agroecological performance assessments, policy, and value chain analysis.

For the initiative it is of particular value to work in Senegal and contribute with science-based evidence in a region where agroecology has already been promoted and widely accepted as a solution for achieving a sustainable food future. This will create opportunities for comparative analysis and for scaling innovations.

Featured image credit: R. Belmin/CIRAD

Share this to :