Although the African rice species, Oryza glaberrima Steud. is a native of West Africa, significant rice production began in Senegal only after the introduction of Asian rice (O. sativa L.), probably in the 16th Century.
People living along the banks of the Casamance River in the south are remarkable for their expertise in growing mangrove rice. In the northern Senegal River Valley, rice is grown only under irrigated conditions. The main rice season in the country is from June-July to October-December. The off-season, found mainly in the Valley, lasts from February-March to June-July. Improved indica varieties have been released for cultivation throughout the region.
Rice is the staple food of the Senegalese. Per capita rice consumption in the year 2000 was 115 kg of brown rice, which provided 750 calories and 21 g protein per person per day. In spite of the substantial increase in local rice production in the recent past, Senegal must import large quantities of rice to meet demand.
A number of rice dishes are prepared in Senegal, but the Cebbu Jen - or rice-fish - is the most popular. This dish is also very much appreciated in other West African countries. A line in a popular song dedicated to Cebbu Jen says, "You have to put a lot of spice in the fish to have a succulent taste in your rice and fish."