Learn about Peace Corps Senegal's Sustainable Agriculture program
last updated ,
12 February 2012
Senegal, like much of the developing world, faces a looming food security crisis. Food prices continue to rise, which hits the world's poorest population the hardest; unprecedented climatic patterns disproportionately affect growing conditions in countries like Senegal; the result is an insufficient food supply, or to put it another way, millions risk misery and malnutrition.
Nearly half of Senegal's families have been listed 'food insecure' by the World Food Program, and while the population continues to grow, so grows the need to increase domestic food production. Beyond weather conditions and other factors out of the population's control, prevailing agricultural practice in Senegal fails to conserve the fragile environment, while a lack of organization and investment among agrarian populations are contributing to a rural exodus; the combination of the two is ultimately destructive of the country's future.
To address this, the Government of Senegal has requested that the Peace Corps provide volunteers to work in the Agriculture and Community Development sector. Agriculture volunteers, working in a small rural community, partner with farmers to improve their technical capacity. By teaching improved practices and conservation measures, volunteers empower farmers to produce greater and more diverse harvests now and in the long term. In addition, volunteers train and advise residents of their villages to be community leaders, and to help the community as a whole organize itself and set priorities for development. With this kind of direction, communities can provide greater opportunities for people to live and work for years to come.
What We Do
The first and foremost project of agriculture volunteers is to improve food security. The Peace Corps approach depends upon motivated farmers with whom the volunteers work, and who will try practices recommended by the volunteer, and adapt these technologies to their environment. These pilot farmers will then, in turn, extend the skills they have acquired to their peers in the community. The types of activities volunteers conduct with Senegalese partners include the following.
Volunteers work hand in hand with host country nationals in various settings and capacities, such as Fields, Volunteers extend improved field crop and rice seed varieties to local farmers, provided by the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA).
Based upon discussion with farmers, the volunteer identifies relevant solutions to problems raised, and then designs demonstrations for these to be placed in a highly visible part of a farmer's field. Sections are divided so that a technical improvement can be applied alongside a control, and the field is monitored by the volunteer throughout the growing cycle. At key times, farmers are invited to observe the results.
Providing farmers with a small amount of seed from the Senegalese Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA), volunteers make a link between the nation's farmers and its agricultural experts. Volunteers provide the farmers with guidelines for planting and maintenance, as well as for seed selection and saving. Certain of these farmers are trained to produce large amounts of improved variety seed, and then distribute it to others in their area.
In order to both broaden sources of income as well as increase nutrition, volunteers work with members of their communities to grow garden crops. Not only is this a lucrative alternative for the rainy season, but it is an especially needed activity during the long dry season. Volunteers provide technical advice for growing vegetables, as well as water conservation, soil quality, and pest control.
Watch APCD Famara Massaly describe the Master Farmer Program
Over the past 6 years, approximately 100 Sustainable Agriculture Volunteers extended improved variety field crop and rice seed, along with improved farming practices to over 2000 farmers in at least 180 villages, in the Fatick, Thies, Kaolack, Tamba and Kolda regions.
As a result of these activities, farmers are adopting:
Improved varieties, of beans (Melakh), corn, upland rice, and sorghum
Gardening methods, seed selection, and storage methods.
New local seed sources including a women’s group are emerging
Volunteers developed local action plans in over 35 villages spanning 5 regions.
At least 70 community members are using acquired knowledge and skills in participatory methods.
Health huts and health cabinets have been developed in 5 villages. Also, several latrine projects have been implemented to improve hygiene and health throughout Senegal.
Income generating activities have been implemented in several communities, including: community gardens, chicken raising, seed saving and marketing, etc.
Through outside funding, classrooms have been built to improve education.
Sustainable Agriculture Resources
Sustainable Agriculture Volunteer Blogs
Agent Stoermer in Senegal: Danielle Stoermer, Kaolack
Furium Empiricas: Katherine Crocker, Kedougou
Brochure for the Sustainable Rural Agriculture program in