In Senegal, until next March, members of the Dynamics for an Agroecological Transition are resuming their journey to promote agroecology. Logbook.
Three years after his first "big caravan", Dynamics for an agroecological transition in Senegal (DyTAES) – this large network which since 2019 has brought together all the actors of Senegalese agroecology with the aim of advocacy, awareness and support for territories in transition – is beginning a new journey across the country at the beginning of February 2022.
On the program: a 34-day expedition (from February 7 to March 12, 2022) and 14 stages in the heart of rural Senegal with the aim of consulting the actors involved in the agroecological transition.
An immersion in African agroecology
Since its creation, DyTAES has sought to bring together all the actors of Senegalese agroecology with the aim of supporting the State in the construction of an agricultural transition policy. It is to date the most important African movement in this field.
DyTAES has thus become a privileged interlocutor of the Ministry of Agriculture, several parliamentary groups and the Operational Monitoring Office of the Emerging Senegal Plan (PSE). At the international level, DyTAES has been represented in various discussion and decision-making arenas – One Planet Summit, Africa France Summit, International Horticultural Congress, Sustainable Intensification Conference and COP26.
Consult rural people to fuel policy dialogue
Founding act of the DyTAES alliance, a first caravan traveled all over Senegal between August and October 2019 with the aim of better understanding the problems of rural people and collecting their political recommendations.
On this occasion, around thirty members of DyTAES traveled through the 6 eco-geographical zones of Senegal – Casamance, Niayes, River Valley, Ferlo, Eastern Senegal and Groundnut Basin – and consulted thousands of people from more than 500 organizations. One participant recalls:
“The many meetings and field visits made me aware of the fragility of our agriculture, the violence of climate change and the advanced level of degradation of natural resources. »
In an African rural world facing multiple difficulties, agroecology offers a credible alternative, by making it possible to draw inspiration from the functioning of ecosystems to design agricultural and food systems that are more sustainable and more resilient in the face of climate change in particular.
By building synergies between cultivated plants, animals and trees, we can increase production and limit chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
In Senegal, the introduction of certain leguminous species (cowpea, moringa or faidherbia alibidia) in crop rotations allows, for example, biological nitrogen fixation, which contributes to better soil health and savings on the purchase of nitrogen fertilizers.
The diagnosis and recommendations from the areas visited by DyTAES were summarized in a investigation report hand-delivered to the government of Senegal during the 2020 Agroecology Days.
This report underlines that Senegalese agriculture is affected by a structural imbalance. Rural communities pay a heavy price in the face of widespread degradation of their natural resources such as water, soil and forests.
14 stages for the 2022 caravan
Until March 12, 2022, the DyTAES is once again surveying the country to meet the populations during 14 stages. While the mode of action has not changed (site visits, focus groups and workshops), the objectives are different.
This involves preparing the construction of a new political contribution document which will take stock of the government's latest advances in agroecology, such as the recent organic fertilizer subsidy reform. This assessment will also feed into the construction of the Green PSE (the PSE constituting the main framework for political programming up to 2035 for the country).
The testimonies collected during the consultations will be shared during the next World Water Forum (to be held at the end of March 2022 in Dakar) and COP15 on desertification (in May 2022 in Abidjan), two key events on the international agenda. for the environment.
Provoke a “jump” of the territories
Faced with the urgency to act, DyTAES has chosen to bet on the territories as major players in the agroecological transition in the country. The caravan thus aims to strengthen or stimulate the establishment of local frameworks (under the name Dynamique pour une transition agroécologique locale, DyTAEL) in the various territories visited.
"The caravan must generate a general upheaval, empowerment of the rural territories of Senegal", underlines one of the scientists involved in the organization of the 2022 caravan.
This mobilization within the territories was initiated in 2021, with the construction of DyTAEL in three departments of Senegal – Tambacounda, Podor and Bignona. These structures were designed as places for local political dialogue, territorial planning, experimentation and synergy between the agro-ecological initiatives present within a given territory.
Their role is to demonstrate that the agroecological transition is possible at the scale of pilot areas when the actors coordinate their efforts and pool their resources.
The DyTAELs must produce knowledge and approaches likely to feed the national and international political dialogue led by the DyTAES, like the project Desira Fair Sahel which notably offers agronomic experiments in rural areas.
For its first week of roaming, the large caravan will reach Bambilor, Mboro and Thiès, three towns located in the Niayes horticultural zone, a vegetable, citrus and mango production basin affected by the decline in water resources and the health risks associated with the inappropriate use of chemical pesticides.
Laure Brun Diallo, monitoring and evaluation advisor for the NGO Enda Pronat, is co-author of this article. To find the 2019 caravan in photos, meet here.
Raphael Belmin, Researcher in agronomy, photographer, hosted at the Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA, Dakar), CIRAD et Astou Diao Camara, Sociologist, researcher and director of the macroeconomic analysis office (BAME), Senegalese Institute for Agricultural Research (ISRA)