The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), an international not-for-profit organization that is empowering smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa and the Government of Senegal, have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at improving agricultural productivity in the West African nation with immediate focus on some priority crops.
The partnership, widwifed by the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) and Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Semences du Sénégal (UNIS), targets crops such as rice, maize, groundnuts, and cassava which the government is already working on for improved productivity amidst vulnerabilities of climate change.
Disclosing this at the opening of a one-day high-level roundtable in Dakar (July 7) on Innovative and Economically Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Transformation, Dr Moussa Baldé, Senegal’s Minister for Agriculture and Rural Equipment said Senegal is an agrarian nation with a substantial percentage of the population engaged in subsistence farming.
“Senegal is a net food importer. The production of food crops does not meet Senegal’s needs. The production of major staple food crops covers barely 30 per cent of consumption needs. The country imports almost 70 per cent of its food and people go hungry even though 60 per cent of the workforce is engaged in food crop production. Yet only 65 per cent of Senegal’s 3.8 million hectares of arable land is farmed,” said the Minister who was represented by Mr Ndao, Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment.
The Minister is optimistic that the collaboration with AATF will bring valuable interventions that are capable of steering the country’s agricultural sector to the pathway to success.
Dr Canisius Kanangire, Executive Director, AATF in a presentation said AATF has, used a public-private-partnership model to coordinate sustainable and affordable technology transfer into the hands of farmers, especially in Africa.
He said AATF can do the same in Senegal through the partnership with the Government.
“At AATF, we have developed and released many technologies that address the challenges of the smallholder farmers especially as it relates to agricultural productivity. It is my sincere hope that with appropriate information and deployment, farmers in Senegal will benefit from such technology, he said.
Dr Momar Talla Seck, Director General ISRA on his part said agriculture, an important element for economic development, remained one of the sectors most affected by the effects climate change.
“Faced with this reality exacerbated by the global security and health situation, which has a negative impact on the supply of agricultural products and their increase on the international market, it is more than necessary to privilege and support local agricultural production, to find alternatives allowing rural populations to maintain their agricultural activity while improving the productivity and sustainability of production systems,” he said.
He commended the partnership that brought the various sector players together saying the primary objective is to improve the performance of important value chains in Senegal through the generation and dissemination of agricultural knowledge and technologies, as well as the strengthening of the capacities of the actors and their organization was timely.
“Indeed, in the face of the many challenges that threaten the development objectives of our States and have a negative impact on food security and our livelihoods, it is more than necessary to mobilize all our expertise for an appropriate response,” Dr Seck said.