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Jennifer Petersona, Mulonda Kalendeb, Djawadou Sannic, Mamadou N'Gomd
a Helen Keller International, Conakry, Guinea
b FAO Regional Office for Africa, Accra, Ghana
c FAO Consultant, Porto Novo, Benin
d Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture, Dakar, Senegal

Peterson, J., Kalende, M., Sanni, D. & N'Gom, M. 2006. The potential for integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) in Senegal. In M. Halwart & A.A. van Dam, eds. Integrated irrigation and aquaculture in West Africa: concepts, practices and potential, pp.95–116. Rome, FAO. 181 pp.


The paper provides an analysis of the potential for integrated irrigation aquaculture in Senegal. It is based on general information available from workshops and meetings facilitated by FAO in 1999 and 2000 as well as a field report from a mission to Senegal by experts in agronomy, aquaculture, and socio-economics in December 2001. It is concluded that Senegal has all of the essential resources necessary to produce large quantities of fish. However, there are opportunity costs associated with using each of these resources. Competing and generally more profitable uses of land and water require the development of innovative aquaculture systems which are not geared principally to the production of fish, but rather to incidental or secondary fish production. The development of fish production in short cycle systems, using locally available, low-cost techniques, which allows for the production of fish with minimal competition with other, more profitable exploitations is required. Integrating low-cost, extensive aquaculture systems into existing irrigation and production systems is a potential solution to the situation. More research needs to be done on the profitable production of local fish species, and on extensive aquaculture production systems. Competing uses of limited resources -especially water - needs to be taken into consideration, and aquaculture should be integrated into local farming systems rather than into irrigation systems, per se.


Located on the western edge of the Sahel, Senegal has the highest per capita consumption of fish in Africa (37 kg/ person/year). Unfortunately, inland fisheries production has been decreasing steadily. Despite an extensive water network that includes the Senegal, Gambia and Casamance rivers, as well as over 500 km of Atlantic Ocean coastline, Senegal suffers from severe water constraints. Some areas of the country receive less than 300 mm of water per year, and rainfall has decreased an average of 10 to 20 mm per year since the 1980s (CILSS, 1995).

Because of the importance of national and regional water resources in the country and the decreasing availability of fish, the government of Senegal submitted a request to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to participate in a planned regional Integrated Irrigation and Aquaculture (IIA) programme. A mission was sent to Senegal in November 2001 to explore opportunities for the development of IIA activities in the country. This report presents the findings of the mission. The findings of previous FAO missions to Senegal to explore aquaculture resources (December 2000; Miller, 2000) and to examine the possibility of integrating aquaculture into rice production systems (March 2001; Sanni and Juanich, 2001) were taken into consideration during the elaboration of this report.

The mission

Three technical specialists participated in the IIA exploratory mission in Senegal - a socio-economist and team leader, an irrigation specialist and an aquaculture specialist. They were joined in Senegal by an aquaculture specialist from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture, who participated in all field exercises and in the analysis of results evaluating potential opportunities for and constraints to the development of IIA activities in the country. This was done on the basis of (i) review of available documents; (ii) meetings with the FAO Programme Officer, the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) Coordinator, staff of the Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture, representatives of donor organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations and government organizations including the Center for Environmental Monitoring, the Service of Hydrology, the Center of Assistance, Experimentation and Extension for Artisanal Fisheries (CAEP); and (iii) field visits to three regions of the country including Saint Louis and the Senegal River Valley (Richard Toll, Matam, and Bakel), Tambakunda (Mbouléme and Kédougou), and Kolda (Anambé).

The main findings include a list of past, current and future IIA activities, an evaluation of the potential for IIA development and integration into local farming systems, a list of opportunities, and a list of constraints to the development of IIA activities. In general, the main changes in the IIA situation since previous visits include the creation of a separate Ministry of Fisheries in Senegal, and the start-up of aquaculture projects funded by Taiwan Province of China and the Belgian government.

Past, present and planned IIA activities

Government activities

Although the government has not promoted integrated irrigation and aquaculture systems per se, it has actively supported the development of irrigation infrastructure. Moreover, it has collaborated with donor-funded aquaculture initiatives implemented by NGOs. Currently, the government has three programmes promoting aquaculture. Although these programmes do not specifically target the integration of irrigation and aquaculture, all the areas targeted by these programmes require irrigation to support aquaculture and therefore a certain amount of integration is implied.

The current programmes include the development of aquaculture research and extension activities in Richard Toll supported by Taiwan Province of China, research into the potential for developing aquatic biological control techniques to control weeds in irrigation canals funded by the Cooperation Belge, and activities promoting the creation of an aquaculture network for youth funded by the Ministère d'Emploi. None of these programmes promote water re-use or integration specifically. Each programme is described in more detail in Table 1.

Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS)

During the mission 200 specialists from Viet Nam in Senegal were implementing the SPFS in the field. Activities include the promotion of market gardening, agricultural and aquaculture processing, rice culture, agroforestry, aviculture, apiculture, and aquaculture. Vietnamese technicians working with local community members have improved seasonal ponds and developed integrated aquaculture and irrigation systems in Kédougou, Vélingara and Fatik. They have also developed traditional fish ponds integrated into gardening irrigation systems in Matam. In most cases, Vietnamese technicians provided technical advice as well as feed and fertilization inputs for project communities.

Donor and non-governmental organization (NGO) activities

USAID/Peace Corps

From 1981 to 1986, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in association with the US Peace Corps funded the development of aquaculture in the Senegal River valley (Richard Toll, Dagana, Podor, Matam and Bakel). The objectives were to demonstrate the feasibility of fish culture in the Senegal River valley and to produce marketable fish. Problems included technical mistakes, the use of imported rather than local fish, lack of trained technicians and fishermen, and a lack of clear definition of responsibilities between SAED, DNFF and Peace Corps. Farmers in Bakel also mentioned water infiltration, land tenure issues and predators as constraints. The lack of efficacy and unreliability of pumps for the provision of water in the fish ponds was a serious technical constraint.

L'Agence française des volontaires pour le progrès (AFVP)

French volunteers posted in Matam experimented with cage culture in the Senegal River and pond aquaculture. Although the mission did not discover records of activities or accomplishments, discussions with farmers who previously worked with AFVP revealed that the cost of creating the cages was a significant constraint to implementation and adoption. The technical viability of the endeavour in the area remains unproven.

Miller (2000) mentioned several other projects supported by the Canadian, Vietnamese and Chinese governments in Ziguinchor (Casamance region). The mission did not receive any information about those programmes.

Current projects

There are several irrigation projects currently funded by local and international NGOs and international donors in Senegal. Africare, Aquadev, CRS, LWR, Oxfam, GADEC, Terre Nouvelle (a Belgian NGO), the Belgian government (Coopération belge) and USAID are just a few of the NGOs and donors who implement irrigation programmes in the field. Cooperation Belge is funding a 2.5 billion CFAF project in collaboration with four local and four international NGOs called PESA, Programme de l'eau pour la sécurité alimentaire - the Water Programme for Food Security. Despite the potential for integration of irrigation with aquaculture if appropriate integration systems are developed, little integration is planned. No aquaculture programmes are currently promoted by NGOs or donors, apart from those being implemented in collaboration with the Senegalese government.

Planned projects

The mission is not aware of any IIA projects that are cujrrently planned. A more detailed description of past, present and future IIA programmes is included in Table 1.

IIA potential and fit into local farming systems

Farming systems

The agroecological zones of Senegal are described in Table 2. Most land is used for crops: groundnuts, cotton and rice are major crops, followed by tomatoes, onions (repeatedly mentioned as the most profitable crop), cassava and sweet potatoes. Maize, cowpeas, okra, hibiscus, watermelon, fonio (Digitaria exilis) and bananas are produced on a minor scale. Green beans and melons are becoming increasingly important cash crops.

Animal husbandry is an important source of income, and women practice sheep and goat fattening as an income generating activity around holidays and celebrations. Most households own at least a few chickens, sheep and goats. Donkeys and horses are important sources of labour and income. In some areas, conflicts arise between owners of migrating animal herds (generally cattle) and local farmers. In the southern forest region, charcoal production is a major income generating activity and competes with other (less destructive) land use management practices.

Many of the farmers visited produce rice in the rainy season (July-October), vegetables or maize and sorghum in recessional flood plains during the cold season (November-February), and have alternative income-generating activities during the March-June hot season (charcoal production, cloth dying, small-scale commerce). In some areas farmers supplement rice production during the rainy season with other cash crops such as okra and hot peppers. Both men and women participate in agricultural activities, including land preparation, planting, weeding and harvesting.

Land use and tenure

All land in Senegal is technically owned and managed by the state. Along rivers and the ocean, land is publicly owned. Customary land use rights are slowly giving way to private ownership in many areas, and land is currently being purchased from the Ministry of Finance for 99-year leaseholds. Land purchasing has become highly politicized in urban areas and in resort locations, and this concern is partly behind the political problems in the Casamance region.

Although access to land is not generally restricted, access to irrigated land can be difficult to obtain. In one area around Richard Toll, farmers said that where they used to cultivate one hectare of land, now they only cultivate 0.3 to 0.65 hectare per person. It costs about 600000CFAF/ha to rent irrigated land to grow tomatoes, and 300000CFAF/ha to grow rice (SAED, Bakel)1.

Table 1. Past, current and planned IIA activities in Senegal. Information on constraints and lessons learned was gleaned during interviews with Abdoulaye Diop, CAED; Aboubacar Ndiaye, SAED/Bakel; Deme Diallo, Ministère d'emploi, Richard Toll; Samba Ka in Bakel.

DonorYearsTarget zoneType of IIA systemObjectivesConstraints/lessons learned
USAID/Peace Corps1981 -1986Richard Toll, Nianga, Matam, BakelDerivation ponds pumping water from the Senegal River into irrigated perimetersDemonstrate feasibility of fish culture in the Senegal River valley
  • Lack of training, lack of technical knowledge of farmers and extension agents
  • Lack of appropriation by the population/ lack participatory approach
  • Targeted traditional fishermen but land belonged to cultivators
  • Technical problems and mistakes (poor fish growth - 80 g; feed transported from Richard Toll; ponds leaked; imported fish vs. local species; poor site selection; inappropriate and poorly adapted technologies)
  • Lack of effective coordination between SAED, DNFF and Peace Corps
AFVP1987 – 1990MatamCage culture in the Senegal RiverDevelop fish culture in cages and ponds
  • Materials to create cages were expensive making the technology as promoted unsustainable (superficial feasibility studies)
FAO/ SPFS1995 - ongoingMatam, Kédougou Velingara, Podor, FatickIntegration of fish culture with gardening, animal husbandry, rice in private irrigated perimeters, seasonal ponds and borrow pitsImprove water management, intensify crop production, diversify crop, analyze constraints
  • Fish culture has potential for development in seasonal ponds and borrow/ gravel pits
  • Prices of commercially available feed and fertilizer too high for most farmers
  • Community management and conflict resolution techniques for shared resources need to be developed or better understood
Taiwan Province of China)2001 -2003 (first phase)Dagana/ Richard TollIntegrated rice-fish culture with derivation ponds using pumped water from the Senegal River and Lac de GuiersDevelop fish culture in rural ponds; restock natural water bodies; extension in 10 villages per yearThe project supports the distribution of inputs at reduced or subsidized prices, free distribution of tools and fingerlings to farmers and builds lab for sexing and artificial reproduction. This approach does not promote sustainable development. Research into production of sexed fish and development of lab may not be sustained by the government
Belgian Government, Univ. de Liège, CSS (sugar company), Min. of Finance2001 -2003 (pilot phase)Richard TollIntegration of ponds with sugar cane in canals, with pumped water from Senegal River and Lac de Guiers and triploid carp to avoid biological contaminationTest biological control methods of invasive weeds in irrigation canals and dams (Projet d'aquaculture et lutte biologique)The techniques being developed are very high tech, and will be of use mainly to resource endowed companies like CSS, or for large scale dam projects (OMVS/OMVN)
Ministère d'emploi2001-?Richard Toll/ Dagana, Matam, PodorDerivation fish ponds using pumped water from the Senegal River and Lac de GuiersCreate network of fish farmers in the Senegal River valleyProject is being supported with technical assistance and support based in Dakar. As a result, implementation has been slow

Table 2A. Agroecological zones of Senegal. Zones I-III (Source: Programme spécial de sécurité alimentaire 1999).

CharacteristicZONE I: Senegal River ValleyZone II: Niayes and the coastal regionZone III: Groundnut production zone
LocationFrom Bakel to the beginning of the Senegal River; includes department of Bakel, region of Tambacounda and Saint-LouisSouth of Saint Louis to island of Cap Vert, band from 5 to 50 km wide and 180 km longOld region of Sine Saloum (Kaolack-Fatick) to Diour Bel, Thies (outside of the Niayes), Louga Ndamdé, Darou, Nousti, Sagalatta, Koki, Mbédenne, Salkal and Tambacounda
Size (km2)9 658 (600 km long and 15 km wide)2 75446 387
Population (1988)600 0001 700 0003 200 000
Population density (no./ km2)57600 with an extreme of 3 40068 min: 5 – 10 people/km max: 150–160 people/km Thies
Average rainfall (mm)200 – 500 (500 in Bakel, 360 in Matam and 200 in Podor)200 – 500 mm200–500 (north) 500–800 (south)
Average temperature (°C)20 – 40 with extremes of 12 (Nov–Feb) and 45 (May–June)24–2535; min: 15–18; max: 40–45 (May–June)
VegetationBadly degraded and composed of Acacia nilotica, Acacia senegal, Zizyphus mauritiana and combretumShrubby savannah with Acacia spp. Vegetation is progressively deteriorating due to drought and the extension of gardening practices.Natural forest vegetation is seriously degraded. Forest islands remain around Thies
Soil quality3 principal soil types: (1) Walo soils (alluvial soils in the delta and the lower valley); (2) Diédiogol soils (alluvial soils in the transition zone, sands and clay-sands); (3) Dier soils (very sandy soils in Matam and Bakel)Mineral soils; hydromorphic soils; poorly developed soils (sandy); halomorphic soils (impossible to cultivate)Iron soils (acidic, low pH); brown hydromorphic soils; laterite soils; holomorphic soils (saline and high in sulphuric acid (Fatick and Kaolack)
Production systemRainfed crops, irrigated crops, recessional crop production, pastoral and agro-pastoral production, horticultural production (fruit, vegetables, green beans), large animal husbandry, chicken raising, milk productionFamily gardening (0.2–0.5 ha); private and large scale irrigation systems (20–300 ha); horticultureSubsistence agriculture, groundnut - millet rotations, agroforestry (saw mills)
Principal cropsRice; millet; maize; sorghumGardening; horticulture; animal husbandry (cattle, sheep, goats, rabbit); agricultureGroundnuts; millet; animal husbandry; sorghum; maize; gumbo and vegetables
Water resourcesThe Senegal river (and the dams at Manantali and Diamant which regulate water level and salinity), Lac de Guiers and the Taowey riverNo surface water except ocean inlets and old inlets which have become saline lakes.Surface water is more rare and temporary in nature. Seasonal tributaries of the Gambia River flow during the rainy season. Streams below the bas-Bolong have become salty due to droughts and soil type
IIA opportunities
  • Emergence of a private entrepreneurial sector
  • Available labor
  • Public services available
  • Irrigation potential/ important water resources
  • Market proximity (Dakar, Thies and Saint-Louis)
  • Important horticulture potential · Dynamic economy
  • Active farmers associations and horticultural producer groups
  • Market proximity (Dakar, Thies and Saint-Louis)
  • Main roads (Dakar/ Thies/ Louga/ Saint-Louis and Dakar/ Fatick/ Kaolack/ Tambokounda)
  • Tradition of groundnut and subsistence culture
IIA constraints
  • Arid climate and strong wind erosion
  • Soil degradation and natural resource degradation
  • Insecure land tenure
  • Inappropriate production techniques
  • Decrease in rainfall and underground water resources
  • Fragile ecosystem
  • Salinification of underground water resources
  • Pollution of underground water resources (fertilizers and pesticides)
  • High population density and land use pressure
  • Land speculation
  • Decreased rainfall
  • Degradation of natural resources and vegetative cover
  • High population density and land use pressure
  • Salinification of some water resources

Table 2B. Agroecological zones of Senegal. Zones IV-VI (Source: Programme spécial de sécurité alimentaire 1999).

CharacteristicZone IV: Sylvo-pastoral zone (Ferlo)Zone V: CasamanceZone VI: Center and South-East
LocationMost of the region of Louga and a small part of the Senegal River regionSouthern Sénégal, Casamance and upper Casamance, (regions of Kolda and Zuiganchor)Includes region of Tambacounda, except département of Bakel and parts which are included in the groundnut basin
Size (km2)57 65128 32451 918
Population (1988)325 000700 000300 000
Population Density (average number of people per Km2)6466
Average rainfall (mm)200–500 (400–500 in the South)900–1 400700–1 300
Average temperature (°C)Max. 40 (May–June)26–3126–31; max: 45
VegetationSahelian vegetation - shrubby steppe and forested savannahForests cover 1,400,000 ha and are the most important forests remaining in the country. Soudano-guinean vegetation, and 100,000 ha of mangroves composed of Avicenia nitida and RhizophoraNorth - south passage composed of shrubby steppe and forested savannah, as well as Soudano-guinean forest and vegetation
Soil qualitySandy to sandy-clay soils in the west, and dark gravel isohumic/ hydromorphic soilsWide range of soil types from iron soils (red and beige), hydromorphic soils (often saline), transitional hydromorphic soils (gray), good for rice culture and gardeningTropical iron rich soils, hydrimorphic and halimorphic soils in alluvial areas, brown mineral soils subject to erosion and poorly developed lithosols
Production systemSylvo-pastoral and agro-pastoral production systems Rainfed agriculture and animal husbandryRainfed agriculture on slopes; rice culture in low lands (bas-fonds) Small irrigated perimeters used for gardening and horticultureExterior fields, low lands (bas-fonds), Irrigated perimeter (Sénégal Oriental), animal husbandry
Principal cropsRice; cotton; fonio; maize; manioc/cassavaMaize; millet; sorghum; rice; groundnuts; manioc/cassava; cowpeasMaize; millet; sorghum
Water resourcesThere are few sources of surface water except seasonal ponds (mares).The Casamance and the Kayanga rivers, plus numerous temporary streams and tributaries.Significant water potential composed mainly of temporary ponds (mares) and portions of the Senegal, Gambia and Falemé rivers, as well as numerous streams
IIA opportunities
  • Development of a milk network
  • Presence of NGOs
  • Dense water network
  • Favorable rainfall
  • Available labor
  • Soil amenable to diverse agricultural production needs and potentials
  • Good rainfall
  • Important agro-sylvo-pastoral production potential
  • Important water resources
  • Aquaculture potential
IIA constraints
  • Drought
  • Degradation of vegetative cover
  • Mobile population
  • Limited services available
  • Political insecurity and conflict
  • Poorly adapted and managed infrastructure
  • Inaccessible to the rest of the country
  • Degradation of forest resources
  • Distance from main markets; access
  • Low population density
  • Exploited forest resources Limited access to public services
  • High organic matter content of soil


Farmers said they are busiest from July to October (during the rainy season), less busy from October to March (generally gardening season), and have low labour demands from April to June (because it is hot outside, they don't have access to water and food supplies run low). Remittances from family members living abroad are important income sources during the “hungry” season (July to October). People with access to water fish from November to June, and most seasonal ponds are harvested from March to June. Animal herders are busy from July to February, moving their herds away from crop land.

There is some paid labor available in the areas visited during the mission. Farmers in Faldé mentioned that they try to do most of their gardening activities themselves, but occasionally they pay for extra labor. However, given the high degree of seasonal migration in the country, labor shortages could pose a problem in some areas.


There is a traditional caste of fishermen and women (Toucouleur) who are generally considered lower caste than other community members. They were traditionally slaves, and speak a type of Peuhlar. There are also traditional fishing families who come to Senegal from Mali and create mobile fishing communities where they harvest and process fish, which they later transport for sale. In the Velingara area these Malian families have intermarried with local community members and teach local farmers how to smoke and process fish.


Although there is a lot of capture fisheries knowledge among certain Senegalese farmers, their knowledge of aquaculture and raising fish is quite limited. Similarly, most technicians were trained in either marine fisheries or forestry. The few technicians trained in aquaculture were trained in Bouaké, Cote d'Ivoire where aquaculture systems are quite different. Irrigation knowledge on the part of both farmers and technicians in the country is quite advanced.


Feeds and fertilizers

Several different kinds of agricultural input stores with gardening seeds, improved varieties of rice, fertilizers and pesticides are scattered throughout the country. They were noticed in all regional capitals and markets. However, most of these inputs are expensive for small scale farmers, and are used for cash crops (vegetables) rather than subsistence production. Most of the gardeners we met were using some fertilizer, pesticides and manure for vegetable production. Although agricultural by-products are widely available (including rice bran, groundnut leaves and even fishmeal) they are often used for animal husbandry production.

Many of the aquaculture projects visited were purchasing formulated feed from Dakar (either already pelleted or purchasing the main ingredients from Dakar and pelleting them locally). They were feeding their fish rations with up to 30% crude protein (CP) made of groundnut meal, wheat bran, rice bran and molasses. Chinese technical advisors in Richard Toll estimated the prices of locally pelleted and composed feed at 100 CFAF/kg, including transport costs, and it takes them about 2 kg of food to produce 1 kg of fish using local rations. If they purchase prefabricated food in Dakar, it costs 180CFAF/kg. If fish are fed rice bran only, they grow to approximately 150 grams in 6 to 8 months; with pelleted feed, they grow to 200 to 250 grams. Some input prices are listed in Table 3.

Table 3. Some prices of inputs for IIA.

ProductCost in CFAF (quantity)Location
Rice bran30 (1 kg)Pont Gendarme
 70 (1 kg)SAED
Rice straw500 ( 1 bale)Pont Gendarme
Rice seed1 150 (5 kg)Pont Gendarme
Rice8 250 (50 kg) local riceSAED
 11 750 (50 kg) TCS 10Pont Gendarme
 11 250 (50 kg) importedPont Gendarme
Fish bran130 (1 kg)Dakar
Groundnut waste150 (1 kg)Dakar
Molasses6 000 (20 Litres)Richard Toll
Fertilizer (18–40–6)9 000 – 10 000 (50 kg)Richard Toll
Manure50 (1 wheelbarrow)Matam


Fingerlings are currently procured from the Richard Toll fingerling station for most projects. However, wild fingerlings are also harvested from irrigation canals, rivers and Lac de Guiers, especially during the cold season2. With support from Chinese technicians, the station currently produces 50000 fingerlings per year, and should produce up to 600000 fingerlings per year in the future. It will be possible to harvest 30000 fingerlings every two months from six ponds. Plans are to keep 200000 fingerlings per year to stock village ponds, and use the rest to restock Lac de Guiers.

The Belgian technical advisor reported that Tilapia zillii are found in local waters, but he believes that although T. rendalli were introduced they are no longer found. The Belgian project has been importing sterile Chinese carp from Belgium for stocking purposes. They also harvested 240 gram T. zillii from Lac de Guiers, and stocked fingerlings produced on site.

Marketing and economics

Credit was previously available to farmers in Senegal through the Caisse National de Crédit Agricole (CNCA). On several occasions, the government has written off debts to national credit institutions during elections and people know they will not have to pay them. As a result, default rates have been very high. Currently, most banks give credit to economic interest groups (GIE) rather than to individuals. This practice, in turn, encourages people to form groups in order to get access to credit.

Several farmers mentioned that low prices for imported rice made local rice production unaffordable, and several farmers mentioned buying imported rice, sugar and salt from Mauritania even though all those products are also produced in Senegal. They believe that differential import taxes in the two countries account for the differences in price.

In one area 20 km east of Saint Louis, women were selling four large fresh Tilapias and one catfish for 3000 CFAF. In most regional capitals, fresh fish sells for about 350 to 500 CFAF/kg. In Dakar the price is up to 700 CFAF/kg. Around Podor, we saw four 300 to 400 gram fresh local tilapia selling for 1000 CFAF, compared to two freshwater fish (mullets) from Saint Louis selling for 150CFAF. Four 200 gram dried tilapias sold for 500 CFAF. Women in the market said that capitain sells best, followed by tilapia. Labeo spp. and catfish are also sold in local markets, but women said Labeo have too many bones. Meat was selling for 1300CFAF/kg. Although meat and vegetables are sold by the kg, fish are almost always sold by the piece, or in piles.3

Public sector services


In the 1970s and 1980s, the government developed agricultural companies in each region of the country. The purpose of these companies was to help Senegal diversify agricultural production from groundnuts to other cash crops such as rice and sugar cane. In 1992, Senegal embraced decentralization, and agricultural companies and producer associations took over the role of extension and technical advisors in the field. Ministry of Agriculture staff members were responsible only for collecting and reporting agricultural production figures, and their numbers were reduced accordingly.

Currently, most farmers receive little or no technical advice on production. However, most of them are quite competent in the agricultural systems they manage and the irrigation systems they use. In Bakel and Anambé, SAED and SODAGRI continue to play major extension roles, although producers' organizations are starting to organize extension support on their own. The Centre Horticole de Camberene also provides technical training for both technicians and farmers, and several local and international NGOs provide assistance in terms of organization, funding and advice. Agricultural companies continue to be responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the irrigation infrastructure developed for local users.

Aquaculture extension was traditionally supported by the Direction National des Eau et Forets, which at one time had 300 field agents. Currently the reorganized Direction of Aquaculture and Inland Fisheries (DPCA) has less than 10 field agents, which makes it quite impossible for them to participate in extension activities.


Senegal has not produced much aquaculture research. Most of the past research efforts have focused on marine fisheries production and the production of high value exotic crops such as oysters and shrimp. In the past, CAEP was predominantly concerned with artisanal fisheries and the production of fisheries equipment. Currently their priorities are capacity building and the role of women in fisheries production. There is no aquaculture research facility at the University of Dakar, but there is some support for aquaculture research through the biology department.

Role of women in IIA

Traditionally, women are actively involved in both gardening and fisheries activities in Senegal. In one area along the Senegal River about 20 km from Saint Louis (near the Diama dam), women who were selling fish said that in their area, women dry and sell fish and make sails for local boats. Men make nets and repair motors. In most of the markets we visited, women were responsible for selling both fish and vegetables.

In the Tambacunda area, women used to make earthen dikes and small depressions in recessional flood plains, so that when the water receded they could harvest captured fish. During the rainy season, people in these areas used small nets to harvest fish. In the cold season, they used gill nets. In the hot season, they used baskets to remove the remaining water and harvest fish.

Women have a problem getting access to good land, especially irrigated or fertile land. Low literacy rates hamper women's efforts to work together and form clubs. In one of the first ever aquaculture programmes implemented in Mauritania funded by UNICEF, only one of 153 women cooperative members knew how to read and write (Sarr, 1999). In discussions with a women's group outside of Matam, women said their main priority is hunger, and the second is a better future for their children.

Irrigation systems

In general, seven types of irrigation systems found in Senegal:

  1. Government managed agricultural irrigation schemes (AHA) with elaborate pumping stations and large areas of irrigated land (over 10000 ha in some schemes);
  2. Village irrigation schemes (PIV) with pumping stations or small pumps on hand-leveled irrigated land (averaging 10–40 ha, but ranging up to 150 ha);
  3. Private irrigation schemes (PIP) with small pumps and small (generally less than 20 ha) irrigated parcels;
  4. Small-scale micro-dams;
  5. Marshes, seasonal ponds and borrow pits (areas where dirt has been removed for road building, dam building and other construction projects);
  6. Recessional floodplains (areas along the Senegal River banks which temporarily flood each year; these areas have decreased since dams were built regulating water flow from Mali, and their size changes each year, depending on rainfall);
  7. Wells (sometimes with small electric pumps or treadle pumps).

SPFS Case Study: Babacar Sarr's integrated fish pond and gardens in Matam, Senegal
Mr Sarr works with Vietnamese Technicians associated with the Special Programme for Food Security. He has one 225 m2 pond, and recently harvested 120 kgs from his pond after one year. In Matam, one kg of fresh fish sells for CFAF1 000. After 10 months, the fish averaged 150 grams. The pond was stocked with 1 250 O. niloticus (15 g each) and 50 Clarias fingerlings. He fed the fish rice bran mixed with millet bran. He fertilized the pond 1–2 times per month with manure and/or fertilizer. He had some problems with white mold on his fish, but treated the pond with neem leaves. He noticed 2–3 reproductions of tilapia fingerlings, but the catfish ate some of them. To completely drain the pond, he has to pump water out. He tried to cement the pond to reduce infiltration. He adds water to his fish ponds every 3–4 days for 2 hours.
He has a pump which brings water from the Senegal River to a holding tank, where it is stored for use in his gardens and fish ponds. He grows 30 ares of eggplant, fruit trees, hot peppers and okra for sale locally. He makes CFAF1.5 million/season in his garden, with most of his money coming from the sale of hot peppers. One hundred hot pepper plants bring in CFAF300 000. Hot peppers sell locally for CFAF1 750/kg. He staggers his vegetable planting from October to July. He uses some fertilizer on his vegetables, but mostly manure. He is testing out an intercropping system for hot peppers under banana trees from May to July, when it is usually too hot to produce vegetables. He waters his vegetables every other day. His pump requires 0.5 liters of fuel per hour. In his household, he and his brothers plant and water vegetables, but his wife harvests and sells them. Mr Sarr has been trained by SAED, AFVP, UNICEF and Caritas. Mr Sarr has also worked with cage culture, and provided technical assistance to women's groups in Mauritania. He is involved with several different credit schemes. He plans to build a second pond, and go into fingerling production. His only constraint so far has been lack of land to expand production. However, he has failed in his activities in the past when he tried to do things on a very big scale.

Irrigation is a true government priority in Senegal. In the 1960s and 1970s, the government created infrastructure to irrigate over 145400 ha of land to increase the production of cash crops (mostly rice, sugar cane and cotton). Water for irrigated land costs approximately CFAF35000–60000/ha/season (roughly equivalent to US$50–85), and large irrigated perimeters are found in almost every region of the country.

Recently, the Ministry of Hydrology has actively supported the development of community level micro-dams and the improvement of traditional ponds and mares. In the past year, over 1000 local ponds were improved using small amounts of government funds and local labour. There are over 3000 natural ponds in Senegal, and 1000 pumps on Lac de Guiers alone.

In addition to government activities GADEC, a local NGO in Tambacunda, has been working with Action Micro-Barrage (AMB), a NGO from Burkina Faso, to develop and promote submersible earthen dams, approximately 1.5 m tall. AMB developed a technology for 100% earthen dams, which originally took 3–4 years to build using local labour. Working with local communities, GADEC modified the technology using additional cement, less earth and local labour, to build dams in 2.5–3 months. These dams have proven to be more solid and require less maintenance than earlier models, and the construction timing fits better into the local seasonal calendar. The dams cost about 8 million CFAF to build. GADEC has also developed dams to be used in recessional flood plains, with submersible wells and dams. They have a team of trained technicians and villagers who promote the technology.

Aquaculture systems

In October 2000, the Government of Senegal established the Ministry of Fisheries, separating fisheries programmes and activities from the Water and Forest Management Ministry (Eaux et Forets). In February 2001, the government nominated a minister to this newly created ministry, and the Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture (the DPCA, which is a department within the Ministry of Fisheries) currently has 6–7 agents in the field, some of whom are former Eaux et Forets staff. The priorities of the new ministry are to review and ratify a plan of action for fisheries, establish an office, create and pass a revised national fisheries management code, and integrate activities more closely with existing large scale irrigation systems.

Government fish stations are currently being privatized. The Richard Toll fingerling production station was sold to SECA International, and it is expected that the rest of the national fish stations will also be sold. However, the DPCA would like to create three regional training centers, one at Richard Toll and two others in different regions.

Very little aquaculture research has been done in Senegal. There are few qualified fisheries technicians, and all research data has been adapted from Bouaké, Cote d'Ivoire. All technical bulletins and technologies are also from either Bouaké or Niger. CAEP has two agents who have been trained by the government of Taiwan Province of China to identify opportunities and develop technologies for high value marine species for export. They are still in the early stages of evaluating the feasibility of such endeavors.

Government currently has a very limited extension capacity. Most extension duties are decentralized to rural communes, which organize Economic Interest Groups and Farmers Associations who are charged with accessing the technical competencies they need. However, some of the large irrigation schemes (SAED, SODAGRI) have extension staff.

As a result of all these factors (lack of research, lack of extension, recent reorganization), aquaculture has been effectively abandoned in Senegal. Despite projects and efforts funded by AFVP and USAID, extension agents were neither able nor motivated to continue aquaculture extension activities. Eaux et Forets officers were more concerned with planting trees and enforcing national forest and water regulations and policies than with aquaculture extension. However, police functions (functions relating to the enforcement of national rules, regulations and policies) have been removed from the duties of field staff.

With the exception of the Casamance region, aquaculture is in an early stage of development in Senegal. In the past, high river production made raising fish in ponds less of a necessity. With the decrease in natural production, aquaculture has become increasingly important to the country, both for domestic consumption and as an important export commodity.

Many traditional fishing villages exist all along the Senegal/Mauritania border. However, natural fish production has declined, at least partly due to the installation of two large dams on the Senegal river and the regulation of seasonal flooding which previously nourished traditional fisheries resources.

In the Casamance region, farmers produce upland rice in the rainy season. Because the water is salty, they build fish ponds above their rice paddies to purify the water. Palm tree trunks serve as inlet pipes, and fish are trapped in the pond (no stocking occurs). Fish species include Tilapia guineensis, Sarotherodon spp., shrimp, mullet and crabs. Over the past three years, government research teams have tried to improve the system by stocking the ponds with 60–80 cm fish captured in the river and by improving pond construction techniques. Their goal is to increase production in these systems from 350 to 1000 kg/ha/year. Fish are harvested using baskets and consumed locally. There are approximately 800 traditional fish ponds in 66 villages in the area, covering 800 ha (V. Ndiaye, Centre de recherche océano-graphique, personal communication).

Most existing fish ponds in Senegal require either pumping water in for stocking, or pumping water out for drainage. The cost of pumped water is a serious constraint to aquacultural development in the country, especially given the current price of fresh fish. However, if pumping costs can be shared among several crops (e.g., pumping for both rice and fish, or into fish ponds used as storage facilities for gardens) the activity could become more economically viable.

We visited a few fish farmers during our trip. The first farmers we visited used to work with Peace Corps volunteers in the early 1980s, and now work with Chinese Technical advisors from Richard Toll. They practiced pure aquaculture in a specially prepared pond, irrigated with pumped water from the Senegal River. The water is managed as part of a large-scale irrigation scheme planted with rice or tomatoes (see case study below).

Case Study: Subalo Women's Group (Matam)
Aishata Sarr is the president of a group of women who cultivate a 0.25 ha plot in an irrigated perimeter in Jemel. Ms Sarr formed the group in 1987. Each month, group members pay CFAF100/person (they originally paid CFAF500/person but decided to decrease dues). This money is used to rent land and purchase inputs. There were originally 33 members in the group - now there are 130 members.
They originally received 12 ha of land from the government in Matam, in an old classified forest. However, they are not able to cultivate all of that land. SAED provided technical assistance for the irrigation scheme, and they dug the canals themselves. SAED also gave them a used pump, but it breaks down a lot. Last year it cost CFAF500 000 to repair it. The pump mechanic is the son of the group president, so he does not get paid for his work. However, he is given a parcel of land to cultivate, and free water. Some parcels are managed as a group, but members also have individual parcels they cultivate on their own.
The first year the group produced rice. They invested CFAF40 000 and earned CFAF100 000 (gross). In the cold season they produced onions and made another CFAF200 000. They put all their earnings in the bank, and continued to pay their monthly membership fees. They tried to buy and sell fish from Richard Toll, but they lost money and ended up owing the bank CFAF2 300 000, which they repaid through membership dues and their savings. They also dye cloth and buy and resell items to make money.
Problems they have encountered include lack of experience, and a truck driver who cheated them out of CFAF250 000 during the fish transport scheme. They also have problems with the quality of their irrigation canals. It takes 4 hours for water to reach some areas, and they have to fix their canals a lot. They often use all their savings to repair the pump. Currently, they are only able to cultivate for two seasons, but they would like to be able to use their plot all year. Weeds are also a problem sometimes. They would like to fence their land as well. They tried to plant a living fence, but all the trees died due to lack of water. They are working with UNICEF to get fencing materials.
Before the construction of the Manantali dam, these women fished. They are from a fishing caste. They prefer capitain (Nile perch), then tilapias (#2) and catfish (#3). They know how to dry and process fish, and extract fish oil. They used to get 4–5 canoes filled with fish from nets. Entire communities used to come to this area to fish and work during the off-season; now they go elsewhere.

The second site we visited was an area which had been renovated by the sugar company (CSS) in exchange for village land. Most of the land was planted with rice. A group of farmers working with Chinese technical advisors from Richard Toll had started renovating the site one month earlier. The advisors gave the group equipment to renovate the pond. The fish found by farmers in their rice fields are too small to eat, so they are thrown back into the river or given to children. People in this area do not like to eat small fish. Although they have never practiced aquaculture before and have only fished a few times in their lives, they expect to harvest 50 wheelbarrows of 400 g fish from their pond!

In Bakel we visited a series of classic fish ponds which had been developed with Peace Corps Volunteers as part of a USAID funded project. All of these ponds were empty, and are no longer used. Farmers mentioned problems with water pumps, predation and land tenure as the main reasons for abandoning the ponds. They also lacked technical assistance to continue the projects after Peace Corps Volunteers left the area.

One of the more interesting integrated aquaculture systems we saw were borrow pits in the Velingara/Anambé area. These ponds were formed when earth was removed to construct two large dams in the area, and the holes filled with rain water. These ponds hold water all year, and with Vietnamese technical assistance provided through the SPFS the ponds have been stocked with catfish and tilapia. The ponds are integrated with animal husbandry and gardening and provide drinking water for animals during the dry season. There are approximately 50 of these pits in the area. In one pond advisors reported harvesting 2 tonnes of fish, several times per year.

Cage culture had been attempted by AFVP in Matam but was not successful. Food (66%) and infrastructure costs (US$5558) were high. The technology promoted was complex, involving the use of metal cages, thermometers, regular growth monitoring, sexing of fish, cement, and purchased feed (rice bran and groundnut meal) (Babacar Sarr, Matam; personal communication).

Farmers in the Tambacunda area mentioned that before, their river (a tributary of the Gambia River) did not dry up and they used to eat fish all the time. Nowadays there are no more fish in their area, and they have to follow the stream 15 km up to the confluence with the Gambia River to find fish. These farmers are very interested in developing aquaculture and integrating fishponds with their gardening irrigation system. They have a small micro-barrage and a pump irrigation system, and receive technical support from a local NGO (GADEC). They said they would be happy to get even small fish and would consume most of them locally. Although they used to dry fish, they don't do this anymore because fish is in short supply. They were able to list about 13 different kinds of fish they used to find in the river.

IIA systems

Existing IIA systems in Senegal

  1. Aquaculture in irrigation canals of large irrigated perimeters (Richard Toll/CSS);
  2. Rice culture, aquaculture and gardening relay systems in large irrigated perimeters (Ndiareme/Dagana and Anambé/ Velingara);
  3. Traditional (unmanaged, unplanned) rice-fish culture in large irrigated perimeters;
  4. Gardening, fruit tree production and aquaculture in fish ponds in private irrigation systems (Babacar Sarr/Matam); marshes/seasonal ponds (Mouderi/Bakel), micro-dams (Mboulémou/Tamba); and borrow pits (Anambé/Velingara);
  5. Rice culture, aquaculture, gardening and animal husbandry in marshes/seasonal ponds (Kédougou/Marsh of Fadinga and Samakuta);
  6. Aquaculture and animal husbandry in marshes/seasonal ponds (4 marshes in Richard Toll/Niari, Koungani/Bakel);
  7. Rice-fish culture in mangroves in Casamance (not visited).

Potential IIA systems

The easiest systems in which to integrate aquaculture are those where water is free. Seasonal ponds (mares), dams (bac de stockage) and rice paddies (where the water is paid for by the rice component) are some of the cheaper options for practicing and promoting aquaculture. Cage culture in rivers is another alternative which makes use of free water but would not promote the integration of aquaculture into existing irrigation systems. Aquaculture could also be practiced in water storage basins in large irrigated perimeters, but only if the water management schemes used by rice and vegetable growers allowed sufficient water to keep fish ponds productive. Fish culture cannot be promoted in the canals of these systems, since most of them dry out at various times throughout the season (with the exception of sugar cane systems).

Semi-intensive rice-fish systems (large irrigation systems)

Fish are already harvested in rice paddies in Senegal. However, they are harvested after only three months of growth and are not stocked in a regular manner. One possibility for improving traditional integration techniques would be to stock fish which could get to a marketable size in three months (i.e. 3–4 month old tilapia), or to harvest the fish with the rice and hold them in a holding tank or alternative pond until they reach marketable size. Farmers seemed generally less interested in modifying rice paddy construction to accommodate additional fish production. This could be due to costs associated with renovation, or land tenure issues in irrigated perimeters. However, farmers are willing to feed fish locally available, low-cost products and are interested in growing fish in their rice paddies if appropriate techniques are developed.

It should be noted that most rice in Senegal is direct seeded; few farmers transplant rice from nurseries. Water levels would not be adequate for fish production until several weeks after the ponds are planted with rice. Most paddies are planted in July and harvested in October.

Although many people have tried rice-fish culture or had heard of it, noone was actively practicing it and many seemed skeptical about the potential for semi-intensive rice-fish production. However, rice-fish relay cropping was considered a potential alternative. Part of the problem may be the rice irrigation management system, in which fields are irrigated for a week only once (during the cold season) or twice (during the hot season), to a depth of less than 15 cm. Integration of aquaculture with vegetable production may be easier as vegetables often require more frequent watering. There seems to be a lot of concern about pesticide contamination in rice-fish ponds, but people are already eating fish which are grown in rice paddies.

Aquaculture Case Study: Abdoulaye Djaie, Gaya
Mr Djaie started growing rice on a large irrigated perimeter in 1975. From 1979 to 1980, he and a group of three other men worked with Peace Corps volunteers and learned how to produce rice and fish. With the assistance of the Peace Corps volunteer, they modified their rice fields and from 1984 to 1989, they practiced rice-fish culture. They did not have any problems with the system, but after the Peace Corps Volunteer left, they did not receive any additional technical assistance, and in 1989 they ceased production because the irrigated perimeter was remodeled. After the fields were renewed in 1990, they did not practice fish culture until now. This year, the Chinese working at Richard Toll gave them fish to stock their pond, and rice bran and dried fish meal from Dakar. They manage the pond together. They think they stocked 5 000 fish in their pond, which has a surface area of about 500 m2. Their pond is about 1.5 m deep. They are the only people producing fish in their area. They stocked their ponds in August, and plan to harvest them in May.
Mr Djaie also produces rice (4 months) and tomatoes (4 months). He plants tomatoes in October, and harvests from March to May. He plants rice in November, and harvests in July and August. His daughters help him harvest the rice, but the fish is not much work, so he does that work alone. However, after the Chinese advisors measure his yield, his wife will sell his fish for him - he cannot write. He usually has 10–16 sacks of rice left after he repays his loans for his field. After expenses associated with traditional and religious holidays, there is not much left. He earns CFAF200 000–300 000 per season from tomatoes. Women plant potatoes, tomatoes and onions in his area. The hungry season is June-October. May-July is a slow season for his family.
Mr Djaie doesn't think he can rotate his rice fields with tomatoes because of weeds. However, he does think he may be able to rotate his rice fields with fish. He thinks his biggest problem will be food for the fish - he needs someone to teach him alternatives to rice bran and flour. He thinks there will be no problem selling the fish. It would cost CFAF40 000/hour to rent a tractor to redo the rice paddies to make them more amenable to fish production.

Semi-intensive gardening-fish systems in private irrigation schemes

Private farmers are already paying for pumps to bring water several hundred meters from rivers to their private irrigation schemes. Some farmers believed it was possible to build fish ponds near the source of their irrigation water to hold water to irrigate their gardens. Pump maintenance would be the major problem, but pumping costs could be shared among multiple gardening activities, and most vegetable crops require frequent watering. Pond fertilization might also be a problem since the pond would essentially be a flow-through system. On the other hand, fertilized water would improve crop growth and less fertilizer might be required overall in the system. Soil characteristics, infiltration and drainage would need to be considered as well. The benefits of this system are that fish is produced at no extra production costs (except fish feed, which could be provided from garden waste), and water is individually rather than communally managed.

Extensive production systems around marshes/seasonal ponds, flood plains (rice, fish, animal husbandry and gardening)

Farmers already plant gardens around seasonal ponds (mares) or in recessional flood plains. These production systems could be improved with simple, low cost stocking techniques using locally available fish, and low cost management systems using resources available in the community. Some simple construction techniques could also help to improve water holding capacity, and overall productivity. The main drawbacks to this system are that seasonal ponds and floodplains are communally managed, and water is difficult to control. However, the system has been promoted by Vietnamese technicians associated with the SPFS, and appears to be working in some areas.

IIA opportunities

There are a number of reasons why IIA has considerable potential for development in Senegal.

Farmer interest

There is a lot of interest in fish in general and aquaculture in particular in Senegal. People eat a lot of fish, river production has decreased, and the demand for fish for export has increased with concerns over mad cow disease and international health. All the farmers we met said they were willing to try aquaculture.

Irrigation Case Study: Samba Diene Diop, Dagana (PIP)
Samba owns 15 acres, which he purchased in 1994 from villagers where he lives. The land cost CFAF1 725 000. He owns a pump, which requires approximately 150–200 liters of fuel/ha/season (about 6 months) to operate. The pump cost CFAF2 900 000. His brother in Mauritania loaned him the money to buy the land and the pump. It cost CFAF30 000/hour to rent a machine to prepare irrigation parcels, so he prepared his land by hand. He plants eggplant, sweet potatoes, carrots, groundnuts, cabbage, sweet potatoes, onions and hot peppers in his field, and he cultivates all year long.
His gardens are located 1 km from the stream where he pumps water. He has some parcels of land closer to the stream which he believes would be better for fish production, and the water could be stocked there for use in gardens downstream.
Although he always has water in his canals, he does not have any overflow from the gardens which he could use to produce fish, because most of the water evaporates or seeps into the soil. He has found wild fish in his canals before, but they die because he only irrigates his gardens once per week or after 10 days (in the cold season).
He worked with a Japanese rice culture project, so he feels he has all the technical advice he needs for gardening. His main problems are lack of money for fertilizer, which costs CFAF9 800 per sack, whereas his eggplants sell for CFAF4 000 per sack. He is learning how to make compost and use organic fertilizers, but feels they take too long.

Government interest

There is also an interest on the part of the Senegalese government, which has just created a Ministry of Fisheries and a Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture specifically to address diminished natural production and the need to diversify production and increase exports. The government also has given high priority to food security issues, and increasing irrigation capacity and integrating aquaculture into irrigation systems is one way to improve local food security.

Local knowledge

People have been fishing in Senegal as long as there have been people in Senegal. Although they are not aquaculturalists by nature, certain ethnic groups in the country are fish masters and have great traditional knowledge about fish species, habits, reproduction, and processing techniques. However, they have never raised fish.

Availability of numerous indigenous fish species in the flood plains of the Senegal, Gambia, Casamance, Falemé and Anambé rivers

Farmers in Tambacunda were able to name 13 species of fish found in local streams. Although the team did not see any inventory data of Senegalese fish species, technicians and research staff felt there was a significant untapped potential to develop local fish species for aquaculture production.

Water resources and irrigation

Although water is a scarce resource in the Sahel and rainfall is erratic, there are significant water resources available in the country. There are huge rivers, important lakes and 3000 seasonal ponds. The main problem is accessing and controlling it.

There are large irrigated perimeters in almost every region of the country, and there are over 200000ha of irrigated land. These perimeters have been in existence for over 20 years, and both technicians and farmers have been trained in their construction, management and use. Although farmers didn't always practice the “best” irrigation techniques, they felt comfortable with their knowledge and their capacity to get additional technical assistance if required (generally from SAED or another agricultural company).

The devaluation of the CFA, and market opportunities

The devaluation of the CFA could make fish exported from the region more competitive and allow Senegal to break into European export markets currently dominated by Asia. There are already good local and regional markets for fish.

Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), and the importance of crop diversification

Another opportunity is the existence of the SPFS team, supported by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture. The Vietnamese technicians currently in the field are already promoting IIA, and have many of the technical competencies and experience necessary to develop, test and disseminate new IIA technologies. In addition, the traditional importance accorded by the Government of Senegal to crop diversification and its inclusion as a special objective of the SPFS further support the development of the aquaculture sector.


Current policies allowing the transfer of irrigation management responsibilities to beneficiaries, along with the adoption of participatory and gender-sensitive approaches to development should help foster a sense of responsibility in local communities, and ensure greater participation in development activities.

IIA constraints

The mission identified several constraints that may limit the development of IIA in Senegal many of which are also hindering general aquaculture development in the Sahel (see Miller, Chapter 5, this volume).

On the technical side, fingerling supplies are an issue since currently there are no improved fingerlings available, and transporting fingerlings from Richard Toll would be costly. However, fingerlings of local species can be caught in natural water bodies. Expenses also for other inputs including for improving land and costs associated with building and maintaining irrigation systems as well as for water access and use can be significant. Limited availability and competing uses make feeds costly. Potential negative effects of pesticides used to produce rice and vegetables on fish and animals in integrated systems have to be considered as well as predation, especially by snakes, cormorants, and king fishers. Marketability of small fish has to be considered in some areas. In general (with the exception of more isolated locations such as Bakel, Tambacunda, and Kédougou) the economic costs and benefits, the impact of remittances, and competition with more profitable enterprises have to be taken into account.

Institutionally, the capacity of staff to deal with aquaculture and IIA research and development, both in terms of numbers and knowledge, at the newly created Ministry of Fisheries is quite limited. There is also a lack of developed extension mechanisms (especially aquaculture and IIA extension). Importantly, there is a lack of coordination of aquaculture and irrigation research, training, technology development and extension as these are handled in different ministries.

On the environmental side high evaporation and soil infiltration rates were cited, which in combination with low rainfalls may lead to water shortages. This in turn may aggravate competition for water and trigger conflicts between agriculturalists and pastoralists. Other social and cultural constraints include land tenure, especially tenure in irrigated systems, access of women to irrigated land, and possibly the low level of literacy.

The general lack of participatory development approaches coupled with failures of previously introduced technologies is a serious constraint. After talking with many different farmers, the IIA team concluded that there are many examples of unsustainable approaches taken by past projects. Japanese technical advisors gave a women's group a refrigerator to start buying and selling fish, but they had no previous experience with the activity and the costs of operating and using the refrigerator were more than the costs of using locally available ice. Chinese technicians are giving farmers tools and inputs in exchange for building fish ponds. The US Embassy built wells for farmers in exchange for planting trees. Vietnamese technicians offered credit for labor, feed and fertilizer for fish ponds. Even farmers working with the SPFS were given large quantities of fertilizer to grow improved rice. It is almost as if projects are paying people to do what they want them to do, rather than supporting farmers in what they are already doing.

Recommendations for the development of IIA in Senegal

IIA development in the Sahel should be seen in the context of the Africa Regional Aquaculture Review (FAO, 2000). Specifically for Senegal, and based on additional information from Miller (2000) as well as Sanni and Juanich (2001), there are significant opportunities for the integration of aquaculture and irrigation. The team recommends eight priority areas to the Department of Inland Fisheries and Aquaculture (DPCA) in Senegal emphasizing applied research and technology development, training, and information sharing:

  1. Identification and training of DPCA personnel in aquaculture and integrated irrigation and aquaculture technologies (specifically low-cost, extensive systems);
  2. Identification and inventory of potential sites for aquaculture and IIA development, and review of past lessons learned4;
  3. Feasibility studies of priority IIA sites and systems, and applied research involving national and international research institutions, private enterprise, farmers, NGOs and multiple government agencies;
  4. Development of IIA extension packets for sites and systems identified and studied;
  5. Harmonization and coordination of IIA interventions among national and local partners;
  6. Identification and training of potential IIA partners, private enterprises, extension agents, farmer organizations and NGO staff;
  7. Identification, demonstration and training of farmers'organizations;
  8. Association and collaboration with national, regional and international IIA organizations, institutions and partners.

Support should be provided by external organizations such as FAO to strengthen the capacity of the DPCA by supporting training activities for technical staff and research specialists, facilitating the exchange of information and applied research results between regional IIA programmes, and supporting opportunities for the exchange of information between research and farmers. In addition, IIA activities should be programmatically and systematically included in activities funded through the SPFS, and new partnerships should be formed between SPFS staff and local research organizations, the Ministry of Fisheries, and the many NGOs currently working on irrigation systems.

Proposed target zones and population

Senegal River Valley (rice-fish in large irrigated perimeters). In the Senegal River Valley, rice farmers should be targeted for the development of rice-fish systems. Specifically, farmers in Mbundum (around Dagana), Guedé and Nianga (around Podor) were recommended for rice-fish integration. Of all the districts along the Senegal River valley, Dagana has the most developed extension structures and large irrigation schemes. The population is very organized and agro-industrial companies are present to facilitate access to agricultural wastes and by-products. It is also an accessible region where it is easy to obtain land.

Failures of past projects, cost of pumping water from the river, and competition with other economic activities for inputs are some of the constraints to IIA development in the valley. However, inputs are available, large-scale irrigation systems and pumps are already installed, and extension agents and technical irrigation expertise are available. Traditional fishing communities and fishing casts should be targeted to develop fish processing and marketing.

Casamance (rice-fish in gravity fed systems). Farmers in the Casamance region are more familiar with aquaculture techniques than any other group in the country. They have already integrated aquaculture with rice production, and their traditional knowledge should be explored, documented and shared with other farmers. Additional benefits of IIA development in this region are that farmers do not have to pay for water (it is not pumped) and people eat fish of any size. However, the area has been plagued by political unrest for a number of years and transport to the region is considered dangerous. Most of the NGOs currently active in the area work through local intermediaries. Another problem in the area is the high salt content of the water.

Kolda/Anamabe (integration of gardening with animal husbandry and fish in borrow pits and above dams). This area has over 50 borrow pits created during construction of the Anambé dam, and the two huge lakes formed when the dams were created. These borrow pits and the areas above the dams should be targeted for low cost, extensive IIA activities, such as improved stocking and simple management techniques. Construction and engineering improvements should be avoided, and pumps should not be promoted.

Tambacunda/Kédougou (gardening-animal husbandry-rice-fish in seasonal ponds). Tambacunda and Kédougou are isolated areas. As a result, farmers have fewer income generating opportunities, and a lot of interest in aquaculture or any new production system. They have fewer developed irrigation systems, but more rain (up to 900 mm), and opportunities exist for IIA development in seasonal ponds and valleys. The area has a lower population density (6–7 inhabitants per km2) and more natural resources than any other region of the country. Despite this potential, farmers in the region are also among the poorest in the country, and in greatest need of new technologies which could increase agricultural production and improve food security.


Senegal has all of the essential resources necessary to produce large quantities of fish. Land, water, labor, fingerlings, inputs and indigenous knowledge of inland and capture fisheries are available. However, there are opportunity costs associated with using each of these resources, and in many cases alternate uses of these inputs are more profitable than their use for aquaculture production alone. For example, land with year-round access to water and irrigated land can be used to produce cash crops such as vegetables, or subsistence crops like rice. Cash crops may generate several times more income per cubic meter of water than fish culture. The cost of pumping water for fish culture alone is not profitable, with the possible exception of high value aquaculture crops like oysters and shrimp. The price of fish in local markets is extraordinarily low, and the cost of imported feeds is extraordinarily high, which contributes to the lack of profitability of semi-intensive aquaculture systems in the country.

In areas which do not require water pumping, aquaculture may be more profitable, but water is not often available year-round in those sites (generally seasonal ponds and lakes). Moreover, these sites do not always allow complete drainage of ponds and often there are competing uses of water, including gardening and animal husbandry. These competing and generally more profitable uses of land and water require the development of innovative aquaculture systems which are not geared to the principal production of fish, but rather to incidental or secondary fish production. The development of fish production in short cycle systems, using locally available, low-cost techniques, which allows for the production of fish with minimal competition with other, more profitable exploitations is required. Integrating low-cost, extensive aquaculture into existing irrigation and production systems is an option.

Labor could be a constraint in areas with high emigration (in some villages in Senegal almost every household has a member living abroad sending remittances). Human capacity could also be a constraint in areas with extraordinarily low literacy and numeracy rates, and in populations with no experience in raising fish.

Finally, potential aquaculture inputs - rice bran, millet bran, peanut cake, fish meal - are currently used for animal husbandry activities, including sheep and goat fattening, horse and donkey rearing (the primary source of transport in many rural and semi-urban areas), and milk production. People in Senegal are primarily either fishermen (generally considered a low caste occupation) or practice animal husbandry as their principal occupation (if not their principal source of income, which is often remittances). These priorities and preoccupations of farmers need to be taken into consideration when identifying and developing aquaculture production systems and IIA technologies.

More research needs to be done on the profitable production of local fish species and on extensive aquaculture production systems. Competing uses of limited resources - especially water - needs to be taken into consideration, and aquaculture should be integrated into both local farming systems and irrigation systems. Intensive and semi-intensive aquaculture production systems which focus on the production of fish alone are not likely to succeed in Senegal. Applied research and training should be major priorities.

The development of integrated aquaculture systems in Senegal is not only possible but probable, given the consumption of fish in the country, and the decrease in capture fisheries production. However, these systems will not follow traditional intensive aquaculture models, and will require significant ingenuity and innovation on the part of both farmers and technicians before aquaculture will evolve into a productive and profitable activity.

References/Further reading

AFAE. 1995. Les femmes rurales du Sénégal et leur accès à la vulgarisation agricole. Dakar, FAO. 52 p.

CILSS. 1995. Situations agrométéorologique et hydrologique dans les pays du CILSS en 1995. Comite permanent inter-Etats de lutte contre la sécheresse dans le Sahel, Publication no. 237. Niger, Centre Regional d'Agrhymet.

Diemer, G. & Huibers, F.P. 1991. Farmer managed irrigation in the Senegal valley: implications for the Current Design Method. End of Project Report, WARDA/Wageningen Agricultural University, Water Management Project, St. Louis and Wageningen. 89 p.

Diouf, S., & Bousso, T. 1988. Fleuve Sénégal environnement aquatique et pêche. ISRA/CROD Document scientifique No. 108. Dakar (Senegal), Institut sénégalais de recherche agricole (ISRA) et Centre de recherches océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye.

Diouf, P.S., Kebe, M., Le Reste, L., Bousso, T., Diadhiou, H.D. & Gaye, A.B. 1991. Plan d'action forestier: pêche et aquaculture continentales. Volume 1: Diagnostique. Dakar, Institut sénégalais de recherche agricoles et Centre de recherches océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye, Ministère du développement et de l'hydraulique. 268 p.

Division du Centre d'Investissement, Division de l'Assistance aux Politiques. 2001. Strategie operationelle et Plan-cadre d'actions du secteur agricole. Document révisé. Rapport No. TCP/SEN/8925(A). Dakar, FAO.

FAO. 2000. Africa Regional Aquaculture Review. Proceedings of a Workshop held in Accra, Ghana, 22–24 September 1999. CIFA Occ. Pap. 24. Accra, FAO. 50 p.

GADEC. 1994a. Programme de renforcement: Rapport diagnostic participatif Douba Lampour. Tambacounda (Senegal), Groupe d'action pour le développement communautaire. 13 p.

GADEC. 1994b. Elements d'un rapport de DP dans le village de Missirah Baboke. Tambacounda (Senegal), Groupe d'action pour le développement communautaire.

Guisse, A., Daff, A., Diallo, L., Ba, M. & Fall, N. 1999a. Evolution institutionnelle d'une ONG Africaine: Le GADEC. Dakar, Groupe d'Action pour le Développement Communautaire. 38 p.

Guisse, A., Daff, A., Diallo, L., Ba, M. & Fall, N. 1999b. Du développement communautaire à la gestion et réhabilitation des terroirs villageois. Dakar, Groupe d'action pour le développement communautaire. 23 p.

Guisse, A., Daff, A., Diallo, L., Ba, M. & Fall, N. 1999c. Etude de cas sur la valorisation des vallées: L'expérience de GADEC. Dakar, Groupe d'action pour le développement communautaire. 44 p.

ISRA/CROD. 1992. Crevetticulture en Casamance, Synthèse des résultats obtenus. Dakar, Institut sénégalais de recherches agricoles/Centre de recherches océanographiques de Dakar-Thiaroye.

PSSA/FAO. 1999a. Caractérisation des zones et sous-zones eco-géographiques et problématique de développement agricole. Document de travail No. 1, Atelier technique 10 au 11 juin 1999. Dakar, Cellule national de coordination de programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire, Ministère de l'agriculture et de l'élevage/FAO.

PSSA/FAO. 1999b. Problématique de développement agricole par région et actions prioritaires pour la sécurité alimentaire. Document de travail No. 2. Atelier technique 10 au 11 juin 1999. Dakar,Cellule national de coordination de programme spécial pour la sécurité alimentaire, Ministère de l'agriculture et de l'élevage/FAO.

Miller, J. 2000.Mission for Integrated Irrigation Aquaculture. Sénégal, Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso. Mission report, December 1999 - January 2000. 76 p. (Unpublished).

Ministère de l'environnement et de la protection de la nature, Direction des eaux, forets, chasses et de la conservation des sols, Division gestion de la faune et des eaux continentales. 1996. Atelier national sur la composante thématique: gestion des eaux continentales et de la pisciculture. Inventaire des domaines de la pêche continentale et de la pisciculture au Sénégal.

Ministère de l'agriculture et de l'élevage, Cellule national de coordination de PSSA/FAO, Mission des experts et techniciens vietnamiens au Sénégal. 2000. Rapport d'étape Situation au 30 septembre 2000, Dakar.

Ministère de l'agriculture et de l'élevage/ Cellule national de coordination de PSSA/FAO. 1999. Evaluation des potentialités aquaculture du Sénégal. Séminaire atelier sur la pisciculture au Sénégal, 23 -24 février 1999. FAO, Dakar.

Ministère de la femme, de l'enfant et de la famille. 1996. Plan d'action national de la femme sénégalaise 1997 -2001. Ministère de la femme, de l'enfant et de la famille, Dakar. 126 p.

Ministère de la pêche/Direction de la pêche continentale et de l'aquaculture. 2001. Plan stratégique opérationnel et Plan cadre d'actions prioritaires. Rapport de la journée de réflexion.

Mission technique agricole chinoise/Taïwan. 2001. Projet de pisciculture en milieu rural. DPCA, Dakar.

Muylwijk, J. and M. Smetsers. 1996. Gender and Agricultural Engineering: An overview of current theory and praxis, focusing on sub-Sahara Africa with case studies from Zimbabwe and Senegal. An AGSE Occassional Paper. Department of Gender Studies in Agriculture, Wageningen Agricultural University and the Agricultural Engineering Branch of FAO. FAO, Rome. 68 pages.

Niang, Oumoul Khayri. Politiques et actions de la coopération internationale dans le domaine de genre et développement au Sénégal. Contribution au rapport du Sénégal sur les femmes: Lutte pour l'égalité le développement et la paix. Réseau informel des bailleurs de fonds femmes et développement. FAO, Dakar.

Programme spécial de sécurité alimentaire (PSSA). 1999. Caractérisation des zones et sous-zones eco-géographiques et problématique de développement agricole. Document de travail 1. Atelier technique, 10–11juin 1999, Hotel de N'gor Diarama, Dakar. Dakar, Senegal. 62 p.

Réseau sécurité alimentaire et développement institutionnel et organisationnel (SADIO). Décembre. 2001. Projet de texte d'orientation. SADIO, Dakar. 12 p.

Sanni, D. & Juanich, G. 2001. Etude de faisabilite de la rizipisciculture en Afrique de l'Ouest. Rapport principal. 87 p. (Unpublished).

Sarr, M. 1994. Emploi et travail des femmes au Sénégal. Organisation international du travail, Dakar. 94 p.

Sarr, B. 1999. Pisciculture en Mauritanie, pourquoi et comment? Expériences, leçons tirées, enseignements techniques à l'usage des communautés et organismes intéressés. UNICEF. Nouvelles initiatives de développement en faveur des femmes.

Sarr, B. 2001. Evaluation du volet pisciculture et repeuplement de la mare de Delama, Tufundé Civé. Caritas/Mauritanie, Projet de développement intégré du Gorgol, Bureau de développement local, Tufundé Civé.

Seck, C.A. 1999. Atelier sur la pisciculture, expérience piscicole du projet Matam III. Composante des petits projets adaptés au milieu rural et à moindre coût. FAO, Matam, Sénégal.

UNICEF. 1995. Analyse de la situation des femmes et des enfants au Senegal. UNICEF, Dakar.

UNDP. 2001. Coopération pour le développement: Sénégal 1999. UNDP, Dakar. 218 p.

Ndiaye, V. 1999. Bilan de la pisciculture en Casamance. Centre de recherche océanographique, Ziguinchor. Institut sénégalais de recherche agricole, Dakar.

Wieme, R. 1980. Recherches futures en pêches continentales et en aquaculture. Pour l'institut sénégalais de recherche agricole (ISRA). Rapport de mission. FAO, Dakar.

1 CFAF740 = US$1 (November/December 2001)

2 Mr N'Gom told us he captured 4000 fingerlings in an irrigation canal at Richard Toll in one day during the cold season.

3 In comparison, an adult goat costs CFAF12000–25000, a sheep CFAF20000–40000 (all depending on season), a horse CFAF100000, a cow CFAF100000–250000, and a horse cart around CFAF50000. With intensive techniques, a farmer can harvest 55 sacks of rice from a 50×30 m rice paddy (interview with SPFS farmers in Matam, and information from Mr N'Gom, DPCA). Average cereal production in SAED irrigated perimeters in Bakel in 2000 was: rice 5.1 tonnes/ha, sorghum 3.4tonnes/ha, maize 2.4tonnes/ha (Aboubacar Ndiaye, SAED, Bakel).

4 DPCA staff should obtain and summarize research results from past projects, including the USAID project which operated in Nianga/Podor.

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