Centre d'Initiatives et de Recherches Paysannes  pour l'Environnement et le Developpement Durable

Program delivery zone:

the Peanut Basin of Senegal

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1. About the Peanut Basin
2. Problematics and Goals
3. A viable strategy
4. Reinforcement of responsibility


1. The Peanut Basin (nearly 30% of the nationís land area) accounts for around three-quarters of Senegalís grain and peanut production.

KoumbidjaHighly populated and continuously cultivated, the most exploited zones are seeing the people become impoverished and the land degraded.† The model of exploitation put in place over many dozens of years is based on a culture principally characterized by mechanization and fertilization: peanuts cultivated in rotation with millet have not resisted climatic changes.† In the 1980ís, the rigors of the program of structural adjustment, paired with a growing demographic pressure, definitely compromised the fragile earlier equilibrium.† In spite of numerous research and projects carried out in this zone over the course of the last decades, few solutions were found to arrest the degradation of the environment and thus the urban and rural impoverishment already underway.

In view of this situation and the account now taken of the urgency of the problems in certain parts of the Basin, alternative solutions must be researched and put in place.† The methodology of the approach and analysis to adopt must be different from those that have presided over the preceding choice of actions and projects.† An essential place must be accorded:

  • Farmers' Meeting to the wisdom of the peasant farmers;

  • to the peasant organizations and to their participation together in the process of development of new proposals (in choice, decision-making, implementation, and management);

  • to the natural milieu considered as a whole, with heritage and national resource on the one hand, and utility of production for actions integrating agriculture, forests and pasture on the other;

  • to multiple and integrated paths of activities and means of production rather than a monoculture of peanut production: the multi-cultivation of staple foods (millet, corn, sorghum, peanuts, niťbe, manioc, fresh vegetables), raising animals for market, the cultivation of trees, as well as the transformation to and establishment of fair market value for production at the rural level.


2. The Problematics and Goals of the Peanut Basin are correctly placed in a national context. However, certain of the goals are particularly urgent locally as well:

  • density of the rising population;

  • the fragile and endangered natural environment and, in some zones, severe degradation already underway;

  • the extension of cultivated lands to the detriment of pasture and forested areas;

  • stagnation of production;

  • declining fertility of the soil;

  • stagnation of animal husbandry;

  • the lack of valorization of rural production and the importance of diversification of rural activities;

  • weakness of agricultural revenue which hastens the exodus from rural areas (now moving from seasonal to extended duration);

  • slow modernization of indigenous crafts and weak development of local industries, which could, if developed, increase employment and produce equipment and material needed to improve the quality of life in rural areas;

  • the approach of development up until very recently has been technical, dictated by outsiders to the rural areas, oriented towards a single cash crop predominantly for export, i.e., peanuts, rather than a healthy-for-the land diversification, and has principally focused on men while ignoring the needs of women.


3. A viable strategy of rural development in the Peanut Basin must take account of three indivisible dimensions:

  • the socio-cultural dimension which takes into consideration the different subgroups of the population, including ethnic groups, men, women, and youth, their traditional knowledge and present milieu;

  • the environmental dimension which must be integrated into all technical and economic choices to the end of reconciling the protection and regeneration of the environment with economic development; and

  • the economic dimension which must take account, at the same time, of the potentiality and limitations of the milieu, the factors of production and the possibilities for transformation and valorization of products and conditions of the marketplace for the benefit of local producers and the sustenance of rural communities.


4. Taking account of these three dimensions permits reinforcement of responsibility for the rural world by the national government and all stakeholders and of instituting integrated programs which take account of the needs of the rural population.

The reason for the proposed programs is justified by:Talounde's garden

  • the growing imbalance which exists between the weak productivity for most current systems of production and the needs of a population which never ceases to grow; and

  • a farmerís dynamic which is characterized recently by an upsurge in village organization prepared to dialogue with all who intervene in the local scene and to participate in a reflection on alternative solutions toward the goal of sustainable development.


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CIRPED - Contact Person: Ibrahima Seck
E-mail : ibrahims55@hotmail.com

> Last revised on May 23, 2001<

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