By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
AATF and the Government of Senegal, through the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) and Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Semences du Sénégal (UNIS), have entered into a strategic partnership aimed at improving agricultural productivity in the West African nation.
The partnership targets priority crops such as rice, maize, groundnuts, and cassava that the government is working on to improve its productivity amidst vulnerabilities of climate change.
Speaking 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, 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 capable of steering the country’s agricultural sector to the pathway to success.
Dr. Canisius Kanangire, Executive Director, AATF said that AATF used a public-private model to support technology transfer to benefit farmers in the most most sustainable and affordable manner.
He was hopeful AATF can do the same in Senegal through the partnership with the Government.
“At AATF, we have managed developement and release of a variety of technologies that address challenges impacting smallholder farmer
It is my sincere hope that with appropriate information and deployment, farmers in Senegal will benefit from such technology,’ he added.
Dr. Momar Talla Seck, Director General ISRA 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 support local agricultural production.”.
He commended the partnership that brought the various sector players together saying the objective of the partnership is to improve the performance of important value chains in Senegal, based on the generation and dissemination of agricultural knowledge and technologies, as well as the strengthening of the capacities of the actors and their organization.
“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,” he said.
AATF is an international not-for-profit organization that is empowering smallholder farmers across Sub-Saharan Africa with a wide choice of agricultural innovations that contribute to food and nutrition security to generate health and wealth for their families and communities.
Established in 2003 as an African-led entity, AATF works with public and private partners across the full food value chain to access, develop, deliver and commercialize innovative technologies that bring meaningful change to Africa’s agriculture.
AATF is driven by a vision of a prosperous and food-secure Africa, one where millions of smallholder farmers can transform African agriculture with the same innovations that are transforming food production around the world. AATF believes that farmers in Africa will become globally competitive through the use of the best technology, optimal agricultural practices, strategic product value addition and boosted access to efficient markets within and outside Africa.
The Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA) has the specificity of conducting research in four areas of production (plant, animal, forestry, fisheries) and on the socio-economy, which gives it its agricultural vocation in the broad sense.
The institute operates in the six eco-geographical zones of Senegal thanks to a dense infrastructure system made up of regional centers, national laboratories, research and production units and Support Points for Planning and Multilocal Experiments (PAPEM). It is a public scientific and technological establishment (EPST) created in 1974.
National Interprofessional Seed Union is an association of more than 500 active members.
It works in close collaboration with the government of Senegal through the Ministry of Agriculture and its branches (DISEM, ISRA, DRDR, SDRDR etc). UNIS has been piloting for more than five years the SEED SCALLING project of AFRICA RICE, the projects of SYNGENTA, CORAF and ANCAR with demonstration plots in the valley, in the south, in the center of Senegal. With UNIS it is the reconstitution of the seed capital.