In Senegal, agriculture in the service of women’s liberation

To not miss any African news, subscribe to the newsletter World Africa From this link. Every Saturday at 6am, find a week of news and debates covered by the newspaper’s editorial staff World Africa.

In April 2022, women planted onions in the middle of a fruit tree in the market perimeter of the village of Tawafal in the peanut basin of Senegal in the center of the country.

As far as the eye can see, acacias and baobabs cover the dusty savanna of the Peanut Basin, this vast area of ​​rain-fed agriculture in central Senegal. But as you approach the village of Tawafal, 120 kilometers east of Dakar, another landscape catches the eye of visitors: a six-hectare green plot planted with eggplant, onions, tomatoes or even lettuce. In 2017 the area was abandoned by men because it was not productive enough, but local women took over and today 170 of them cultivate it.

Episode 1 Agriculture: Why should Africa bet on women?

“Even though our husbands have left, we have received support To learn new agro-ecological practices that are far more profitable “, Woré welcomes Diouf, mother of eight siblings. In total, 40% of its crop is dedicated for self-use, the rest for sale. “Everything we eat comes from our plot. I used to buy vegetables in the market with that money, now I keep them in tonnage [système traditionnel d’épargne collective], For school or children’s health, The farmer explained, who was also able to invest in a chicken farm.

In Senegal, the contribution of the agricultural sector is 9.4%. National GDP in 2019, according to the National Agency for Statistics and Demography (ANSD). According to the World Bank, a sector that represents 30% of Senegalese employment. But many women are less productive than men because of lack of land and money. More impact on children and their environment.

“I’m less dependent”

Founded in Senegal in 2009, the NGO Agrisud International, which promotes agriculture, has decided to focus on women to develop a program to support market horticultural diversity in the peanut basin. The project is based on an observation: during the rainy season, uniform cultivation of groundnut, buckwheat and cowpea (a very common variety of bean in Africa) is essential, but their production is declining due to drought. , Soil salinization and climate change. A total of 15 market gardening sites have been launched by NGOs across the country.

Faced with declining income, Khadi Engom Jib, a 32-year-old farmer and mother of two, joined the Ndérep project. Just a few months later, he can eat his vegetables and sell them to the village of 11,000 residents. Her husband bought her the first seed and still pays the water bill for the plot, but “I am less dependent on him. I can run the house more independently. “She welcomes.

Read more: “African countries need to pay more attention to their agriculture.”

To diversify their income and take part in reclaiming land around their homes, women have also planted fruit trees, such as the lemon tree, as well as the Moringa Path, a plant with multiple medicinal properties. Ndeye Gningue, one of 123 farmers involved in the project, is currently collecting small green leaves, which he will then make into dried sauce. “We eat it with couscous, it’s very good and rich for feeding babies.”He says.

Involves purchasing a dryer to support women’s activities. That day, spread on his sliding tray, 8 kg of buckwheat couscous dehydrated in the sun, protected from the wind by Plexiglass walls. “I would leave cereal or moringa on a table in my room but it was not healthy. Dust, baby and chicken would come into the house Khadi Engom Ablaye Dyak explains. And then this new strategy preserves the food for a long time, which retains its nutritional value. A

The goal of investing rural women in building skills and accessing their equipment is to reduce their emigration to the big cities where they have to look for something to offset the loss of income from field peanut crops due to lack of water. Soil erosion due to climate change and overuse of land. “They can now make a living by working on the scene, which allows both of them to look after children at school, but can also contribute to the food security of their village.”Louis-Etienne Duff explains, Agrisad’s project manager.

Homemade organic manure

According to her, it is more acceptable for women to turn to agriculture, with methods aimed at respecting the environment in order to guarantee more sustainable and nutritious products in the long run. For example, female farmers have learned to make organic manure from neem and leucana leaves, garlic or pepper. In each plot, recycled compost replaced chemical fertilizers.

Attention to alternative practices that can be explained by the impact on their own lifestyle. “The burden of climate change falls on women, The National Network of Rural Women of Senegal refers to Theresa Mbaye, who is in charge of environmental and natural resource management in Senegal, which brings together about a hundred organizations. When soil erodes, it is difficult to find food for those who are responsible for making children sick by spraying pesticides in the field, or for those who take care of organic waste and fertilizer while sweeping their backyards. . A

Also read COP26: “In Africa, climate change exacerbates inequality between men and women”

Activists have also noticed that more and more women are in village committees or municipal councils to protect their rights and develop their communities. At the heart of household management, they tend to put their money aside when it comes to food, school, children’s health, or problems. “Although men will spend it on their personal needs”Activists, whose other struggle is access to land for women to practice agriculture.

This article was produced as part of a series in partnership with Cartier Philanthropy.

Summary of the series “African Women, Leading Food Security Actors”

Leave a Comment