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Technology transfer for irrigated rice production in the Senegal River valley under the Special Programme for Food Security

Van Nguu Nguyen

Agricultural Officer, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO


Rice is the staple food of the population in Senegal. However, local production can satisfy only one quarter of the national demand for rice. In Senegal, rice is cultivated under a wide range of agro-ecological conditions. Irrigated rice production is carried out mainly in the Senegal River valley in the north and accounts for almost 70 percent of national rice production, while rainfed rice production systems are dominant in the Casamance region. The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) in the country has been implemented since 1995/96 with four main components: water management, crop intensification, diversification and constraints analysis. The intensi-fication of irrigated rice production in the Senegal River valley was selected as a major activity of the crop intensification component of the programme and has been carried out through on-farm demonstrations of improved rice production technologies using a partici-patory approach and the transfer of these technologies through the training of farmers. This paper presents a summary of irrigated rice production in the Senegal River valley and SPFS's activities with regard to the transfer of technologies in this field since 1996.


In 1996, per capita rice consumption in Senegal was 108.7 kg/year. The climatic conditions in the country are characterized by a marked variation in rainfall from north (about 350 mm/year) to south (about 1 000 mm/year). Rice production in the country increased steadily during the 1990s, from 169 800 tonnes in 1991 to 239 786 tonnes in 2000. Most of the increase in rice production, however, derives from an increase in harvested area, which grew from 72 264 hectares (ha) in 1991 to 95 884 ha in 2000. Rice yield increase was slow, from 2 349 kg/ha in 1991 to 2 500 kg/ha in 2000. Despite the increase in production, the quantity of rice imported by the country has increased rapidly, from 595 545 tonnes in 1991 to 933 078 tonnes in 2000 (Table 1).


Harvested area, yield, production, import and export of rice in Senegal, 1991-2000


Harvested area






72 264

2 349

169 800

595 545



73 696

2 406

177 346

559 387



77 945

2 480

193 374

574 463



77 736

2 086

162 228

519 967



68 966

2 249

155 152

658 523



73 811

2 015

148 780

834 680

1 155


74 698

2 325

173 702

600 025



45 405

2 720

123 519

831 442

1 194


95 884

2 500

239 786

933 078



95 884

2 500

239 786



Source: FAOSTAT, 2001.

Rice production in Senegal is carried out under a range of agro-ecological conditions - upland, rainfed lowland, mangrove and irrigated - but irrigated rice has contributed most to national production. During 1992-93, irrigated rice production accounted for about 70 percent of national production (Keita, 1994). Irrigated rice production is practised mainly in the Senegal River valley in the north, where rice is planted in two seasons - wet and hot dry seasons - while rainfed rice production systems are dominant in the Casamance region in the south. Irrigated rice production in the Senegal River valley increased rapidly during 1989-92 and then decreased sharply (Figure 1).


Production of irrigated rice in the Senegal River valley: total, wet season, hot dry season, 1985-96


Yields of irrigated rice in the Senegal River valley, wet and hot dry season, 1985-1996

The climate in the Senegal River valley is Sahelian, characterized by high-level solar radiation for nine out of 12 months in a year and a short rainy season with limited rainfall. The pressures of rice insects and diseases are often negligible. Despite these favourable conditions, yields of irrigated rice during the wet season were below 5.0 tonnes/ha in most years, while yields during the hot dry season were less than 5.5 tonnes/ha during 1985-92 and then decreased to below 5.0 tonnes/ha during 1993-96 (Figure 2). This situation indicated there was potential to increase rice production in the country by improving the productivity of irrigated rice. Other factors that were taken into account by the SPFS, when focusing on irrigated rice production in the Senegal River valley, were the potential for further expansion of irrigated rice, the interests of farmers and the presence of a relatively good structure for rice processing and marketing. Water resources in Senegal were estimated to total about six thousand million cubic metres yearly, about 75 percent of which is from the Senegal River (FAO, 1995).


Since the start of its activities aimed at intensifying irrigated rice production, the SPFS has conducted the on-farm demonstrations of improved rice production technologies using a participatory approach and in partnership with the Union des Jeunes Agriculteurs du Koyli-Wirndé (UJAK) - a farmers' association - and has trained farmers on the demonstrated technologies. The demonstrations were held only during the rainy season in Mattam and Podor and were executed by UJAK farmers with technical assistance provided initially by SPFS staff and subsequently by Vietnamese experts, who arrived in 1997. A package of production technologies used in the demonstrations was formulated for each site by concerned stakeholders - including researchers, extension officers and farmers - taking into account the existing proven technologies in the country and the local agro-ecological conditions. The technology packages have been updated from time to time on the basis of the latest research results. An example of the technology packages used in the demonstration is provided in Box 1. Recently the Société d'aménagement et d' exploitation des terres du delta et de la vallée du fleuve Sénégal et de la Falémé (SAED) released three varieties - SAHEL 108, SAHEL 201 and SAHEL 202 - for rice production in the valley (Table 2).


Integrated crop management technology for participatory demonstrations in rice production under the Special Programme for Food Security in Senegal

  1. Site name: Donaye, Diatar, Madiou, Guia villages (Podor Department).
  2. Location: Rural community of Guédé village, Podor Department, Saint-Louis Region, Area: 24.9 ha (11.9 ha demonstration, 13 ha adoption).
  3. Site management:
    • Group name: GIE Donaye, Diatar, Madiou, Guia.
    • Number of participants: 45 (19 families).
  4. Main activity: Irrigated rice production.

Major innovations

Site preparation, broadcast sowing in water, furrow irrigation, fertilization according to biological demands of the rice, adherence to technology package standards, increased labour time on plots.

Crop management

Variety: Sahel 108 (100-110 days).

Site preparation:

  • Separation of area into plots.
  • Tillage of area at depth of 12-15 cm.
  • Levelling of plots.


  • Broadcast sowing in the water with pregermination of grains.
  • Date of sowing: 22-31 August 1999.
  • Seeding rate of 100-120 kg/ha.
  • Depth of water on the plot at the time of sowing pregerminated grains: 5-10 cm.
  • Specified density ensured by regular seed distribution.
  • Pregerminated grains broadcast in two applications: the first 60 percent, the second 40 percent.
  • Irrigation: water depth of 5-10 cm.


  • Water drained eight to ten days after sowing with plot left to dry for two to three days.
  • Weed control: two methods: hand weeding and chemical weeding (mixture of 5-10 litres of Propanyl, 1 litre of Weedone and 300 litres of water per hectare). Plot left to dry for two to three days before applying herbicide 16-18 days after sowing.


  • Basal dressing: phosphate at 200-300 kg/ha plus NPK or DAP at 100 kg/ha. Harrowing to break earth and permit good incorporation of fertilizer.
  • Top-dressing:
    • 4-5 days after herbicide application: 100 NPK/ha and 70 kg urea/ha
    • 45-50 days after sowing: 60-70 kg urea/ha
    • 8-10 days after flowering: 20-30 kg urea/ha.

Harvesting for seeds:

  • Harvesting begins once maturity attains 80 percent and grain moisture level is between 20 and 25 percent (30-40 days after flowering).
  • Selection of best rice panicles on plots.
  • Storage of the grains in a dry and cool part of the home.

General harvesting: After harvesting for seeds.

Source: C.C. Gueye, personal communication.


Main characteristics of the three improved irrigated rice varieties recently released for cultivation in Sénégal





Original name

IR 13240-108-108-2-2-3

BW 293-2

ITA 306


IR 30 and Babawee

IR 2071-586 and BG 400-1

TOX 494-396

Cycle: wet season (days)




Cycle: hot dry season (days)





IRRI, Philippines

Sri Lanka


Yield potential (tonnes/ha)




Milling recovery (%)




Quality of cooked rice




Source: Keita, 1994

In 1996, 65 farmers participated in demonstrations of improved production technologies, covering a total area of 53.83 ha. The area under demonstration activities in 1997 was 47.38 ha and in 1998 was 25.62 ha. The number of farmers involved in the demonstrations in 1997 was 58 and in 1998 was 23. Results of the activities show that yields of rice planted during the wet season in the Senegal River valley could be substantially increased by applying existing and improved technologies. Yields obtained from the demonstration plots in 1996 ranged from 3 to 10 tonnes/ha and the average yield was 6 tonnes/ha. In 1997, the average rice yield from the demonstration plots in Matam was about 5 tonnes/ha regardless of heavy damages by grasshoppers and crickets, while yields obtained from fields of non-participating farmers were about 2.7 to 4.2 tonnes/ha (FAO, 2000, 2001).

In 1998, yields obtained by farmers who were trained by the SPFS at Woundé, Dembacané, Hadabéré and Ounaré in Matam varied from 6.2 to 8.5 tonnes/ha, while other farmers' yields ranged from 4.2 to 8.2 tonnes/ha. At Diatar in Podor, the yield obtained by trained farmers was 9 tonnes/ha. The average yield obtained from the demonstration plots during the 1998 wet season was 6 tonnes/ha (FAO, 2000, 2001).

In 1999, the area under demonstration at two sites in Matam was only 6.2 ha. The SPFS, however, monitored the performance of rice crops planted by farmers who adopted the demonstrated technologies at four adoption sites covering a total area of 62.8 ha. The average yields of the demonstration sites ranged from 7.0 to 7.6 tonnes/ha, whereas average yields of the adoption sites ranged from 6.0 to 7.7 tonnes/ha. In the same year at Podor, despite the flood, average yields of the demonstration sites ranged from 6.4 to 7.7 tonnes/ha (FAO, 2000, 2001).


The results of the SPFS's activities during the last four years have confirmed that yields of irrigated rice in the Senegal River valley could be significantly increased with the adoption of existing and improved production technologies. The widespread adoption of these technologies by farmers, however, would need appropriate policies that provide adequate support and a conducive environment. The availability of good seeds of the improved varieties and other production inputs and the availability of credits with favourable terms would promote adoption of the technologies. Although yields obtained in both demonstration and adoption plots were high, they are still far from the yield potentials of the existing varieties (Table 2). This suggests that both the packages of demonstrated technologies and the process used for technology transfer still need further improvement and refinement.



Gueye, A.A. 1997. Evolution des rendements de riz dans les périmètres irrigués du Sénégal. Unpublished report.

Keita, S.M. 1994. Bilan de la recherche rizicole au Sénégal. Paper presented during the 18th Session of the Inter-national Rice Commission, Rome, Italy, 5-9 September 1994.

FAO. 1995. Programme spécial national du Sénégal. Dakar.

FAO. 2000. Programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire: composante "petits projets ruraux adaptés au milieu et à moindre coût". Bilan provisoire des activités de l'année 1999.

FAO. 2001. Programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire: Fiche d'information, Sénégal.

Transfert de technologies pour la production de riz irrigué dans la vallée du fleuve Sénégal dans le cadre du Programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire

Le riz est l'aliment de base de la population au Sénégal, mais la production locale ne satisfait qu'un quart de la demande nationale. Le riz irrigué, qui est cultivé essentiellement dans la vallée du fleuve Sénégal dans le nord, assure environ 70 pour cent de la production nationale. L'intensification de la production de riz irrigué est une des principales activités du Programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire depuis 1996. En dépit des conditions favorables, les rendements de riz restaient la plupart du temps inférieurs à 5 tonnes/ha. Dès le départ, le PSSA a organisé des démonstrations sur l'exploitation de technologies améliorées de production rizicole en appliquant une approche participative, en partenariat avec les associations d'agriculteurs. Les résultats obtenus au cours des quatre dernières années ont confirmé que les rendements de riz dans la vallée du fleuve Sénégal peuvent être sensiblement accrus par l'adoption des technologies de production existantes et améliorées. Ces études montrent également que les rendements peuvent être accrus davantage si l'on améliore les outils technologiques et l'approche au transfert de technologies.

Transferencia tecnológica para la producción de arroz de regadío en el valle del río Senegal en el ámbito del Programa especial para la seguridad alimentaria

El arroz es el alimento básico de la población del Senegal, pero la producción local sólo puede satisfacer una cuarta parte de la demanda nacional. En este país, la producción de arroz de regadío se concentra principalmente en el valle del río Senegal, al norte del país, y representa cerca del 70 por ciento de la producción nacional de arroz. Desde 1996, la intensificación de la producción de arroz de regadío ha constituido una de las actividades principales del Programa especial para la seguridad alimentaria (PESA). Pese a las condiciones favorables, los rendimientos del arroz siguieron estando por debajo de las 5 t/ha durante muchos años. Desde su inicio, el PESA ha coordinado la demostración en las propias plantaciones de las tecnologías mejoradas de producción de arroz utilizando un enfoque participativo y en colaboración con una asociación de agricultores. Los resultados obtenidos durante los últimos cuatro años confirmaron que el rendimiento del arroz en el valle del río Senegal podría aumentar sustancialmente mediante la adopción de tecnologías de producción mejoradas, y que pueden conseguirse rendimientos más elevados mediante el perfeccionamiento de los paquetes tecnológicos y un enfoque adecuado de la transferencia de tecnología.

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