Senegal: Agriculture



Senegal Agriculture Profile


Reference Date: 22-March-2012



  1. Cereal production in 2011 is estimated at 1.1 million tonnes, 36 % less than in 2010
  2. High cereal prices affect vulnerable groups
  3. Some 850 000 people are in need of emergency assistance; urgent action required to avoid deterioration of the food security situation

2011 cereal production sharply reduced

Harvesting of the 2011 cereal crops was completed in December. Following three consecutive years of very good crop, a reduced harvest was gathered in 2011. Delayed rains and prolonged dry spells have affected crop production in several parts of the country, notably in the centre and the north. The 2011 accumulation cereal production is estimated at some 1.1 million tonnes, some 36 % less than the previous year’s good harvest and 21 % below the average for the previous years.


Cereal prices on the increase

Reflecting these reduced harvests, prices of locally produced cereals have increased unseasonably in recent months in most markets. For instance, millet prices in Dakar in January 2012 were 35 % higher than in January 2011. In Kaolack, a major cereal producing area located in the groundnut basin, millet prices in January 2012 were about 25 % above their levels of a year before , while in Matam, located in a drought affected deficit area in the north-east of the country, millet prices increased by about 50 % over the same period reaching record levels in January 2012.

Prices of imported rice, stable in recent months, increased in January in most of the monitored markets. However, in the capital Dakar and in markets located in its proximity prices were still similar to a year before . By contrast, in inland markets far from Dakar, which is the major entry port, they were up to 25 % higher due to high transport costs.

Food and agricultural assistance needed

According to a joint assessment conducted by FAO, WFP and the Government, some 850 000 people are estimated to be food insecure. The majority severely affected areas are located in the regions of Kaffrine, Kedougou, Tambacounda, Louga, Linguère, Saint Louis and Matam.

Reference Date: 27-May-2011
  1. The 2011 cropping season is expected to start with the onset of rains, normally in June
  2. A good cereal harvest was gathered in 2010 for a third consecutive year
  3. In general food supply situation remains satisfactory
  4. Cereal prices are stable

Seasonably dry conditions prevail

The seasonal rains have not from now on started and farmers are currently preparing their fields. Planting of the 2011 cereal crops is scheduled to start in June with the onset of the rains.

A good cereal harvest was gathered in 2010

Harvesting of maize and millet, the major grains produced in the country, was completed last November, while the rice harvest was completed in January 2011. Favourable weather conditions and continued government support towards the agriculture sector contributed to a good national cereal production for a third consecutive year. The official estimate puts the 2010 accumulation cereal production at about 1.77 million tonnes, 5 % below the 2009 record crop but 29 % above average. The output of groundnuts, the major cash crop, was estimated at 1.28 million tonnes compared with 1.03 million tonnes in 2009.

Cereal Prices remain stable

Reflecting these good harvests, markets are well supplied. Although prices increased from January/February 2011 in several markets, following seasonal patterns, they remained below or close to their levels of the previous year. For example, millet prices in Dakar in March 2011 were about 8 % below their level of a year before . Price of imported rice has as well been flat, having declined by 2 % over the same period in Dakar. However, the year-on-year inflation rate in the food sector was estimated at 8.6 % in March 2011, driven mostly by prices of fish (50.6 % increase), milk (13.5 %), fruits (6.4 %) and vegetables (6.5 %).


06/12/2010 Early harvest prospects are favourable
The Government has continued this year to support the agricultural sector, through the provision of subsidised seeds and fertiliser, which is likely to keep planted area as high as in the previous year. Moreover, soil moisture has been generally adequate to meet crops’ water requirement since the beginning of the growing season in June, allowing satisfactory crop development in major producing zones. Millet and sorghum are generally at the heading/flowering stage. Maize is maturing. Rice is growing satisfactorily. Early harvest prospects are good provided normal weather conditions continue. Pastures have regenerated countrywide, improving livestock conditions.

Last year, cereal production increased by 8 % compared to the previous year and 53 % relative to the 5-year average, due to favourable weather conditions and enhanced government support to the agricultural sector.

Reflecting these good harvests, markets are well supplied and cereal prices remain mostly stable across the country.

Most of Senegal lies within the drought-prone Sahel region, with unequal rainfall and normally poor soils. With only about 5 % of the land irrigated, Senegal continues to rely on rain-fed agriculture, which occupies about 75 % of the labor force.

In the face of a moderately wide range of agricultural production, the better part of farmers produce for subsistence needs. Production is matter to lack and threats of pests such as locusts, birds, fruit flies, and white flies.

Millet, rice, corn, and sorghum are the majority significant food crops grown in Senegal. Senegal is a net food importer, mainly for rice, which represents almost 75 % of cereal imports. Peanuts, sugarcane, and cotton are significant cash crops, and a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are grown for local and export markets. In 2006 gum arabic exports soared to $280 million, making it by far the majority significant agricultural export. Green beans, industrial tomato, cherry tomato, melon, and mango are Senegal's major vegetable cash crops. The Casamance region, isolated from the rest of Senegal by Gambia, is an vital agriculture producing area, but without the infrastructure or transportation links to improve its capacity.

Regardless of the lack of transformation of artisanal fishing, the fishing sector remains Senegal's major economic resource and major foreign exchange earner. The livestock and poultry sectors are relatively immature and have potential for modernization, development and increase. Senegal imports most of its milk and dairy products.

The sector is inhibited due to low output and limited investments. The potential production of fauna and forest products is high and diversified and could, if well organized, benefit poor farmers in rural areas. Although the agricultural sector was impacted by a locust invasion in 2004, it has recovered and gross agricultural production is expected to increase by 6 % in 2006 and 5 % in 2007.

Situation and outlook of the agricultural sector

even though this area was impacted by a locust invasion in 2004, it has recovered and gross agricultural production was expected to increase by 6.1% in 2006 and 5.1% in 2007. Reforms of the agricultural area have covered up direct government support and engaged the privatization of national holdings.

The major agricultural crops are peanuts and cotton—both being significant sources of foreign exchange income—inclunding millet, rice, corn, sugarcane, and livestock.

Peanuts are the locomotive of the rural economy and their production accounts for around 40 % of cultivated land, taking up million hectares. The peanut sector provides employment for as a lot of as million people. The industry has been suffering from the effects of the privatization of the agricultural sector and the elimination of the import ban on peanut and other edible oils. However, the peanut sector is still dominated by SONACOS, which has been renamed SUNEOR starting January 1, 2007, thus marking the end of the privatization process which started in 2004 when the government decided to sell its shares to Advens, a private consortium including a Lebanese-French businessman, the Belgian peanut machinery manufacturer Desmet, SODEFITEX (the cotton ginning company), and SONACOS employees.

In recent years, the reported average annual peanut production lies around 828,000 tons (95% for oil). Cotton accounts for about 3% of total exports and the third source of export earnings for Senegal (some 28 million US dollars over the period 1995-2000). Cotton is grown in nearly each region and covers almost third of cultivated acreage.

The cotton industry is managed through the former parastatal SODEFITEX, which was privatized in November 2003 with producers holding 30% of the company's shares. Production of food crops does not meet Senegal's needs. The production of major staple food crops covers barely 30% of consumption needs. Only in years of favorable rainfall does the country approach self-sufficiency in millet and sorghum, the basic staples with rice.

The livestock people includes approximately 3.1 million cattle and 8.7 million sheep and goats. Cattle are reared extensively and on a small-scale basis. Poultry production has increased and has great potential for increase. Despite a significant livestock people, Senegal remains a net importer of meat, especially sheep (live) during major holidays and religious events

Peanut production accounts for around 40 % of cultivated land, taking up 2 million hectares, and provides employment for as a lot of as 1 million people. Although the peanut sector’s contribution to overseas exchange income has dropped under those of fishing and mining, peanuts continue to play a significant role in the generally economy as the major cash crop for a lot of rural Senegalese farmers. Peanuts are processed locally, and prices of processed peanut oil and other peanut products are set a government controlled commission.

Production of unshelled peanuts varies widely because of periodic drought, and production is regularly underreported because of unauthorized sales to processors in neighboring nations. Total production was estimated at 850,000 tons in 2005. Exports of peanut products reached about CFA 15 billion ($30 million) in 2005. They account for some 60 % of total agricultural exports, 75% of which is made up of peanut oil. SUNEOR’s (former SONACOS) exports of peanut oil account for 45 to 50% of the world market trade in peanut oil.

SUNEOR produces approximately 150,000 tons of crude peanut oil per year. The European market, which is its major market, can currently absorb only 90,000 tons. The newly privatized company plans to explore and develop new markets to fully utilize its capacity. In this perspective, exports of peanuts oil to the U.S. have resumed in 2006 and were estimated at about $ 7 million. Other major peanut oil producers include NOVASEN and the Complex of Touba.

Amount these three companies produce mainly non-refined peanut oil and non-grilled peanuts for export. Peanut meal/cake is predominantly sold in the local market as animal feed. The local industry as well refines imported edible oils for domestic consumption. In 2005 Senegal imported approximately 90,000 tons of crude soybean oil, primarily from Brazil.

Rice, millet and sorghum are the major survival food crops for Senegal’s rural people. corn and fonio are as well vital cereal crops. Production of cereal food crops, such as millet , rice, corn and sorghum - which is frequently grown in turning round with peanuts - does not meet Senegal's needs. Only in years of good rainfall does the country come up to self-sufficiency in millet, corn, sorghum and fonio, the major staples in rural areas. Local production augmented drastically in the early 2000s following the government’s decision to promote corn production, and thus decrease reliance upon peanuts.

In 2005/06, total production of cereals (including milled rice) is estimated at 1,177,782 MT, which will cover some 60% of the consumption wants. However, given the segmentation of the rice market (see GAIN SG6002), this production will less likely affect imports. on the other hand, in years of poor rainfall and other natural disasters, the shortfall in coarse grains, especially millet, could be additional difficult to cover because of low availability and trade of this grain in the region. Such constraints have been overcome with an increase in rice imports, with a shift from millet to rice consumption in households who can afford it.

Senegal is the second major rice importer in Africa, ahead of Cote d’Ivoire and behind Nigeria. Senegal’s imports reached 1,113,000 MT in 2005, with net imports estimated at 854,000 MT. Consumers’ preference is for 100 % broken rice originating from Asia, mainly Thailand and India, and recently from Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina. Per capita rice consumption continues to grow and is estimated at 70 to 75 kg and total annual consumption is estimated at 700,000 MT. Local rice production meets about 20 % of the country’s needs and 30 % of this production is used for subsistence. In 2005/06, local production of rice paddy was estimated at 265,000 MT.


Because of its economic weight (first provider of export earnings) and its large contribution, in terms of job creation and food supply, the fishing sub-sector enjoys a key position within Senegal’s development policy. Its significant production and its dynamism (long history of fishing, with nearly 500,000 people directly or indirectly involved in that sector) can be seen through the processing, fish-trade and export activities. The fishing sector accounts for almost 12% of the GDP.
Each year, Senegal produces 30,000 t of shrimps coming from Casamance and Saint-Louis.
The exploitable potential is estimated at 450,000 t. Shrimp caught in the Senegalese exclusive economic zone reach 445,690 t. Produce unloaded is around 408,921 t.

Senegal faces major difficulties in agriculture. For instance, although national production revolves around 150 000 tonnes, rice imports are about 800 000. This means the country is importing 80% of its rice consumption, which puts an enormous strain on the trade balance. To settle this, the government launched the GOANA agricultural drive. Its major goal is to allocate land and supply equipment to achieve food self-sufficiency. This is a sizeable challenge: agriculture represents 15% of GDP and employs 70% of the working people, while 95% of the success of crops depends on rainfall. To change this situation, the government will have to make the necessary efforts to implement the plan locally.