The Accelerated Program for Agriculture in Senegal (PRACAS), developed by Papa Abdoulaye Seck, minister of agriculture and rural equipment, is key to reinforcing food security in Senegal and readjusting a trade balance deteriorated by food imports. It is also designed to help the country develop integrated and competitive sectors with high added value, while preserving the socioeconomic balance and revitalizing rural economy. PRACAS has four main objectives for 2017: reaching self-sufficiency in rice with a production of 1.6 million tons of paddy and self-sufficiency in onions with a production of 350,000 tons; optimizing the performance of the groundnut sector with an annual output of 1 million tons and an export volume of 100,000 to 150,000 tons; and developing off-season fruits and vegetables with an export volume of 157,500 tons.
|Residents of the Senegalese town of Soune Serere draw water from a well built by the Korea International Cooperation Agency in January. (KOICA)|
Since the 2008 food crisis exposed the vulnerability of the international market, special emphasis has been placed on rice. Rice alone accounts for over 75 percent of the country’s food imports, posing a threat to food security and weighing heavily on the economy. To prepare for another crunch, Senegal has defined a national strategy based on four pillars: take intensification coefficient from 1 to 1.8 in the Delta and increase yields during monsoon season beyond 6 tons per hectare; adopt NERICA varieties in rain-fed areas to get average returns of 1 to 2.5 tons per hectare; adopt NERICA in highlands and expand in lowland areas; and extend the area and rehabilitate irrigated perimeters in the North and South.
Senegal has potential and advantages to realize these objectives such as favorable climate conditions, ample water resources, a good geographical position as a gateway to West Africa, a growing consumer market, and political and social stability inherited from a long tradition of democracy and harmony.
The use of technological innovations and research will allow the implementation of a concrete economic emergence pattern that will truly transform “social” agriculture in business also following a value chain approach with a piloting of agriculture through a bill guarantee and the market, local and external. The priority actions are to build agro pastoral structures, replenish the seed capital by securing peanut and food crops pre-seeds, and make certified seed available to producers. It is finally the modernization of rural infrastructure by refitting producers with modern agricultural equipment, building storage and preservation infrastructures for agricultural products in order to reduce post-harvest losses.
The excellent relations between Korea and Senegal seem an ideal setting to strengthen the sharing of experiences, knowledge and know-how, enabling the transfer of the outstanding results of the Saemaul Movement as part of the implementation of the PRACAS. My participation in this high-level partnership program hosted by the Korea International Cooperation Agency on Aug. 25-29 is the beginning of the materialization of a link between PRACAS and the Saemaul Movement, which allowed the rapid development of Korea’s rural community in a 10-year span.
We have been stepping up cooperation with KOICA to improve agricultural productivity on rice and onions. Korean volunteers will boost a four-year pilot program on the Saemaul Movement in Saint-Louis in northern Senegal. I think that it would be quite effective in helping reach the country’s goal, if the experiment is successful and expanded to other regions.
We have good reason to believe that the objectives of PRACAS are achievable and that current yields can be increased with the promotion of good agricultural practices respectful of health and environmental safety. With measures based on a scientific approach and the involvement of all stakeholders at the national and international level, it is possible to transform agriculture into a sector that is not traditional anymore but worthy and creative, playing a key role in modernizing the Senegalese economy.
By Dogo Seck
Dogo Seck is the general secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Equipment in Senegal.