Senegal spearheading innovations in rural development

Since 1979, IFAD and the Government of Senegal have been working together to eradicate rural poverty in the country. As such numerous agricultural and pastoral innovations have been introduced.  They helped to increase production and supported the shift from subsistence agriculture to market production. The IFAD portfolio contains many examples of technical innovations emerging from experiences in other countries that were reproduced in Senegal. At local level, the projects in the portfolio encouraged producer organizations and decentralized government services to adopt the innovations. Following a value chain approach, IFAD-supported projects have contributed to reducing food insecurity, increasing incomes and creating jobs, especially of women and young people.

IFAD and the Government of Senegal realize that it is now time to capitalize and scale up the innovations that have been piloted with the support from IFAD. As a first step, two events have been organised to share the results and best practices from IFAD supported projects in Senegal and to see how innovations can be scaled up: on 9 and 10 February 2015 a national workshop was held in Dakar bringing together all national stakeholders and on 17 February 2015 a seminar was organised during IFAD’s 38th Governing Council for a broader audience.

The innovations and best practices are plentiful. Some examples are:

Inclusion of young people: PAFA has been using an innovative targeting approach to create jobs for rural youth. They are encouraging local sports and cultural associations to prepare proposals in order to obtain project support. Forty-five associations are being assisted by the Project in terms of financial support and capacity-building. As a result, more than 4,000 young women and men are now involved in agriculture related practices. This has allowed them to turn into successful agricultural entrepreneurs. PAFA is providing young women and men with both decent work and livelihood options in their rural communities, so they can remain there if they choose.

Value chain roundtables: PAFA has set up four value chain roundtables (millet/sorghum, cowpea, sesame and hibiscus), bringing together key value chain actors and offering a space for dialogue. The roundtables are responsible for the following activities: (i) increased seed production to ensure members have access to certified seed; (Ii) the dissemination of the market prices; (Iii) dissemination of information on rainfall; (iv) commercial and financial intermediation between producers and buyers; (v) the establishment of an internal control system the quality; (Vii) dispute resolution between producers and buyers.

Decreasing input subsidies: PAFA provides farmers’ organisations with subsidies to acquire quality inputs (certified seeds, fertilizers and agricultural equipment). The financial support last three years and decreases over the years: 80% in year 1, 60% in year 2 and 40% in year 3. The model allows: (i) to facilitate access of small producers to markets at remunerative prices, (ii) to ensure that small farmers have access to quality inputs, (iii) to ensure buyers get the required quality and quantity; (iv) to empower farmers’ organisations in the area of access to inputs; (v) to strengthen rural enterprises and their capacity to mobilize the savings of beneficiary households.

Improved village poultry: PAFA has developed a holistic approach to village poultry, which has proven to be extremely successful. The characteristics of the model are: (i) setting up farmers’ groups in a transparent and inclusive manner; (ii) technical training tailored to the needs of the beneficiaries, especially women; (iii) close technical follow-up provided by local extensionists; (iv) construction of henhouse with local material as a shelter during the night; (v) breeding local chickens that are adapted to the environment and farming conditions; (vi) vaccination and other preventive measures; (vii) production of feed by the beneficiaries themselves using local ingredients.

Promoting local consumption: To promote the consumption of local products, PAFA has trained more than 800 women and young girls in processing and cooking techniques using local cereals. Furthermore, hotel and restaurant owners have been sensitized to introduce dishes prepared with local products in their menus.