Through the Institut Sénégalais de Recherches Agricoles (ISRA) and Union Nationale Interprofessionnelle des Semences du Sénégal (UNIS), the Senegalese government and the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) have formed a strategic alliance to increase agricultural productivity in Senegal and the wider West African region.

The cooperation focused on high-priority crops such rice, maize, groundnuts, and cassava that the government was attempting to increase productivity while coping with climate change risks.

Senegal is an agrarian country with a sizable portion of the population engaged in subsistence farming, according to Dr Moussa Baldé, Minister for Agriculture and Rural Equipment, who was speaking at the opening of a high-level roundtable in Dakar on Innovative and Economically Sustainable Agriculture for Rural Transformation.

“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,” he stated.

Dr Balde was optimistic that the collaboration with AATF will bring valuable interventions capable of setting the country’s agricultural sector on the pathway to success and helping other farmers in the sub-region.

Dr Canisius Kanangire, Executive Director, AATF, said that AATF used a public-private model to support technology transfer to benefit farmers in the most sustainable and affordable manner.

He was hopeful AATF could do the same in Senegal through the partnership with the government.

“At AATF, we have managed development and released a variety of technologies that address challenges impacting smallholder farmer productivity. It is my sincere hope that with appropriate information and deployment, farmers in Senegal will benefit from such technology,” Dr Kanangire 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 of climate change