In Senegal, despite the importance of the primary industry, its agro-pastoral potential and the efforts made under recent programs aiming for food self-sufficiency such as the PRACAS (Program to Accelerate the Pace of Senegalese Agriculture) and the PNAR (National Rice Self-Sufficiency Program), populations remain highly dependent on imports. Two factors explain this food dependency: the low price of the imported food and a population growth of 2.5% per year coupled with the level of urbanization, about 3.3% per year. These factors lead to a rise in demand, especially in large urban centers.
Furthermore, rural areas and the agricultural sector remain less attractive. The agricultural sector has a significant number of constraints and developing value chains can be difficult. The insertion of the younger rural population as well as their takeover and modernization of family exploitations represent a major issue for sustainable food systems.
Women play an important role in Senegalese agriculture. Even though they are not a homogeneous social group, they have many challenges in common such as:
- Women are broadly disadvantaged compared to men on the land question, both socially and culturally. Despite the National Domain Act, they don’t have equal access to land. This inequality tends to be reinforced in a context of privatization, pressure, and land speculation.
- Women’s work is divided between domestic duties and productive activities. Although women are the pillar of the family, their role is often not recognized and they are not given the chance to make decisions.
- Usually, women are the ones who take care of the follow-up of agricultural production. Surpluses are either kept for self-consumption or are sold (which implies they are processed sometimes), contributing in both cases to household consumption.