With a first phase carried out between 2011 and 2015, this South-South cooperation project aimed at replicating the PAIS (Integrated Agroecological and Sustainable Production) Program in Senegal, based on the success of this initiative in Brazil, where more than 10 thousand productive units have been implemented since 2005. The PAIS system is a social technology composed of simple processes of agroecological production that increase the supply of food, labor and income for small rural producers.
About 50% of Senegal's population lives in rural areas. In turn, the agriculture and fishing sector is very significant in the Senegalese economy, accounting for 14% of GDP and occupying about half of the active population. Rural Senegalese are mostly small farmers involved in subsistence farming; of these, 30% are affected by food insecurity.
Agriculture in Senegal is based on commercial crops (peanuts, cotton and vegetables) as well as on food crops (mainly cereals), both of which depend on the rains, which are expected for only three months a year. Farmers' productivity is reduced due to factors such as inadequate management of soils and degradation of ecosystems. This situation results, among others, in low levels of income of the families and in high rates of migration to the cities and even to other countries.
Working on small farms (around 0.5 ha each), the PAIS system aims at the integrated production of food for own consumption, with the possibility of marketing the surplus, being organized in a structure containing: a central chicken coop, vegetables planted in an agro-ecological backyard and a drip irrigation system. The main objectives of the PAIS are:
- the diversification of rural production and the adoption of agro-ecological management;
- the creation and organization of organic certification systems to add value to products and improve family nutrition; and
- increasing the income of rural producers.
In order to initiate the replication of the PAIS system in Senegal, a model unit was established, in which seven multiplier technicians were trained, who would later advise the families of farmers in the implementation of sustainable agroecological units (from land selection and soil preparation to production). Next, ten additional PAIS units were established, each family receiving a kit of the necessary implantation material and benefiting from technical follow-up for three years to carry out and monitor all the stages of the project.
Brazilian technicians conducted training in agroecology and the construction of small water reservoirs (for irrigation and fish farming), while the Senegalese National Agricultural Integration and Development Agency (ANIDA) provided field technical support and ensured the storage and distribution of the material of the kit. In addition to being part of the project management committee, ANIDA also supported the initiative with the supply of material and labor to install fences around the 11 initial PAIS units, guaranteeing them greater safety.
The main differential of this initiative was to encourage the associations and entrepreneurship of rural producers, with the promotion of the articulation of productive groups and affirmative actions that generate sustainability, acting in the instances of both government and civil society. Some positive effects of the project exceeded expectations; for example, the change in the income of beneficiary families, which, on average, rose by more than 60% (reaching more than 200% in some cases), and a substantial increase in the concern for the environment and sustainable use of water.
Due to the good results obtained, the project ended up triggering the adoption by ANIDA of a public policy denominated "Naatangué Farm" ('naatangué' meaning 'abundance' in local Wolof language); the objective of the Senegalese government is to disseminate the establishment of sustainable agro-ecological units throughout the country.
Supported by: Brazilian Cooperation Agency (ABC)
On the Brazilian side: Technical Assistance and Rural Extension Company (EMATER-DF) and PAIS Consulting in Agroecology
On the Senegalese side: National Agency for Agricultural Integration and Development (ANIDA)
Aly Ndiaye, Agronomist,
Consultant, PAIS Consultancy in Agroecology