Working with committees in seven villages located in the Fatick-Thiès region of Senegal, we have now selected thirty-five local farmers, who we will train and assist in building agroforestry parcels on their land. A further seven villages will be identified in 2020, and another cohort of approximately thirty five farmers will be selected, trained and assisted to develop agroforestry parcels. The village meetings of spring 2019 took place in school classrooms, in village squares under speaking trees (arbre à palabres), and in village halls, with respective village chiefs present at each event. For farmers to qualify for project support, they had to own land, have access to a water supply, and be willing to hedge and develop an agroforestry zone, following the instructions of IRHA and APAF-Senegal. In the villages of Boyar ndiodiom, Nguéssine, Djilasse, Ngarigne, Sorobougou, Loul Sessene, and Ngoé, with whom we are working this year, local agroforestry committees are being created. These committees will collate the agricultural knowledge gained by participating farmers, regarding how to plant and manage agroforestry parcels and harvest rainwater for crop irrigation. The committees will subsequently share this knowledge with other members of their village community.
After convening local meetings to introduce our 'Rain, Forests, People’ project to local farmers, we have received an enthusiastic response from villagers, who recognise the project’s multiple benefits. A particular motivating statistic is that an estimated 30 -40 percent increase in crop yield is anticipated, once farmers establish agroforestry-style crop cultivation.
In constructing agroforestry parcels, farmers will plant boundary hedges containing a range of species including Euphorbia. These spiky plants deter livestock from eating valuable crops, by preventing them from entering the crop-growing zone of a parcel. Including Euphorbia in boundary hedges avoids the need to fence agricultural parcels; this represents a saving of approximately 2300 euros for a single hectare. The opportunity to participate in a project that assists farmers to hedge their crops is a strong motivating factor for Mrs Bemba, from Sorobougou. As one of the farmers involved in the agroforestry project this year, she notes that it costs her around 230 euros a year to buy Euphorbia plants to stop livestock from eating her plants.
Tough, perimeter vegetation also screens tender young plants from the drying effect of the harmatan, a hot wind that blows across the region during the dry season. By also planting trees such as Samanea siamea within boundary hedges, firewood and animal fodder can be produced within agroforestry parcels. A single Samanea siamea tree, like the one pictured below, could yield 52 kg of wood and 19 kg of leaves that are edible for cattle. Pascal Humbert, President of APAF International, estimates that firewood can be harvested from agroforestry parcels already four years after they have been planted, affording farmers up to two thousand euros worth of firewood per year (1,500 000 cfa/year). Clearly, this agricultural technique offers a viable way for rural farmers to significantly increase their revenue. With such a promising outlook, we are very pleased to have completed part one of our 'Rain, Forests, People’ project with APAF-Senegal in the Fatick-Thiès region.More details about the origins of this collaborative project with APAF-Senegal are available in this blog post.
A film about the region of Senegal where we are working with APAF is available here on our website.