Changing Course in Global Agriculture
In recent years, Senegal has established itself as one of West Africa’s most stable countries and a key economic hub, and in the process, made significant strides towards improving the well-being of its population. Even so, the number of people living in poverty in Senegal remains high. Over the last twenty years, the prevalence of undernourishment has oscillated between 15% and 25%. The majority of the poor depend directly or indirectly on agriculture and livestock for their livelihoods. Agricultural development, food and nutrition security and rural poverty are closely linked and a variety of policy measures have been proposed in this area. Still, the direct and indirect consequences of such policies are difficult to estimate.
Our intervention focused on achieving coherent national action in the area of agriculture and the food system. Through exchange with actors and decision-makers in government, private sector, civil society, farmer and research communities, we developed solutions for sustainability in agriculture and achieving food and nutrition security in Senegal.
Key Policy Insights and Recommendations
Increase extension services for LEI techniques. Increased use of low external input (LEI) techniques considerably improves all the analyzed development indicators. Since LEI agriculture is highly dependent on agroecological knowledge, an increase in training focused on agroecological principles increases the application of LEI practices. The scenario that led to maximum overall improvement of key indicators included an increase in the share of training budget spent on LEI training to 30% of the agriculture budget by 2035. Such a policy shift increases cereals production by more than 40% and reduces rural poverty by more than 16% compared to current conditions in year 2035.
Strengthen governance. Improvement in governance leads to higher productivity, a better investment climate, and therefore higher propensity to save and higher private investment, strengthening production and reducing poverty. An improvement of governance of around 20% by 2035 compared to the current situation (signifying an indicator of 0.55) increases GDP by more than 8% and reduces overall poverty by nearly 15% compared to current conditions in year 2035.
Increase support of smallholder farmers. Supporting small-scale farmers to increase their share of total agricultural employment has positive impacts on social indicators such as increase of agriculture employment of 7%, and a decrease of poverty and prevalence of undernourishment of 3% by 2035.
Enhance land tenure. An improvement in land tenure regime by about 30% by 2035, would bring up the Land Tenure Quality Index to 0.73 As a result of such improvement, agriculture employment would increase by 6% and overall poverty would decrease by more than 6% compared to current conditions in year 2035.
Increase support for farmers organizations. Farmers’ organizations can be an important support mechanism for small-scale farmers, increasing the likelihood that farmers’ needs, such as access to markets and to credit, are met by strengthening their coordination, collaboration and their political power. A gradual increase of expenditure for agriculture land use and development to 10% of agriculture budget by 2035 decreases overall poverty and undernourishment by about 5% compared to current conditions in year 2035.
Strengthen gender equity policies. Equity policies can be an important instrument to support vulnerable groups, especially in times of transition, to cushion possible negative impacts of shifts in policies. Strengthening equity policies to raise the index to 60% of the optimal by 2035, would decrease the rural Gini coefficient and improve income distribution, decreasing overall poverty by around 2% by 2035. Furthermore, increasing the Women’s Economic Opportunity Index from the current 38.7 to 70 is projected to raise agricultural GDP by around 2%.
Maintain public expenditure for research and development. Public agricultural research and development (R&D) expenditures in Senegal have fallen gradually since the mid-1980s due to reduced donor support and cuts in government funding. Increase in the share of total agriculture budget spent for research and development to 10% by 2035 generate the best synergetic effects when directed towards LEI techniques.