The agriculture sector in Senegal is extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation and climate change.
Composed largely of drylands, smallholder farmers in Senegal face a myriad of threats: droughts, overgrazing, deforestation, and salinization and acidification of arable land. The country is also facing a demographic growth rate of 2.8 percent. With 64 percent of the rural population currently relying on rain-fed small-scale farms for food security and livelihoods, Senegal’s arable land is becoming increasingly fragmented and overexploited as its population grows.
This agricultural intensification has not been coupled with proper management of natural resources, resulting in an acceleration of land degradation and further limiting agricultural productivity. This in turn raises the vulnerability of poor rural people who depend on small farms for their food and income.
In response to these challenges, the Government of Senegal has adopted new policies and programmes to ensure the long-term sustainability and resilience of its smallholder farmers. Through the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the country mobilised the Resilient Food Systems Senegal project, Agricultural Value Chains Resilience Support Project (PARFA).
Jointly implemented by IFAD and UNIDO, the project focuses on improving agro-ecosystem services, food security, and the incomes of small-scale farmers, by developing agro-value chains and creating remunerative employment for rural people, especially youth and women, in activities related land preservation and agricultural greening.
The RFS Senegal project’s approach is centred around the circular economy. The circular economy approach aims to transform business-as-usual practices into restorative and circular agro-industrial systems through a focus on agro-value chains as ideal pathways to elicit transformative change. By focusing on creating synergies between provisioning services, such as food production, with regulating and supporting services, such as carbon sequestration, pollination and regulation of water and genetic diversity, the project is working to create a more sustainable, resilient food system.
UNIDO and IFAD have targeted six agro-value chains for intervention with the goal of decreasing post-harvest losses, promoting energy efficiency and managing natural resources. By greening targeted value chains and improving the value addition within agribusinesses, the project aims to reduce the impact of environmental degradation on local agricultural and livestock production. Interventions will also work to safeguard the long-term productive potential of food systems and generate Global Environmental Benefits (GEBs) related to reduction of emissions and carbon sequestration from improved land management, conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity.
By creating synergies between all ecosystem—natural systems, infrastructures, institutions and people—the RFS Senegal project will ultimately improve the economic and ecological environment of Senegalese smallholders and rural communities.
To learn more about the RFS Senegal project, download the project brochure here.