ILRI/Karen Marshall

How livestock and dairy sectors support climate-smart food systems in Senegal

In a first-of-its-kind national consultation, 14 climate-smart practices and technologies were identified and prioritized to be scaled in Senegal by farmers, experts and other stakeholders.

Plan Sénégal Émergent (PSE), the reference framework for Senegal's economic and social policy since 2014, identifies livestock farming as a priority sector which drives socio-economic growth.

So an integrated approach that favors the development of value chains has been adopted to boost the productivity and production of the livestock sectors.

However, studies show that climate variability impedes the development of the livestock sector, which exacerbates the already major risks during the dry season in Senegal, which lasts approximately nine months of the year.

During this season, feed for livestock becomes scarce, water more difficult to find and ponds dry up.

Faced with climate risks, climate-smart options offer the opportunity for livestock farmers and other actors in the livestock and dairy value chains to adapt, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

AICCRA Senegal directly reached over 274,677 farmers and other players in key value chains with climate-informed agro-advisories in 2022.

Collaboratively identifying and prioritizing innovations that must be scaled so that climate-smart agriculture (CSA) reaches more Senegalese farmers is a critical step in deciding where, how and why we work with partners.

In consultation with sector experts, producers, and other stakeholders, innovations in cattle and dairy value chains were identified, in order to have a selection of CSA practices and technologies that are effectively oriented towards these value chains for maximum scaling potential.

This important exercise supports and guides interventions in livestock systems within AICCRA Senegal intervention zones.

Participants at the livestock CSA prioritization workshop hosted by AICCRA

As AICCRA further scales CSA in 2023, the project will expand to Tambacounda, an agropastoral area in the southeast of the country (home to the largest cattle population in Senegal), which represents an opportunity to scale up packages of CSA technology for sustainable management systems and sharing local natural resources in an agro-sylvo pastoral zone.

Identifying appropriate and context-specific CSA practices for livestock value chains, (especially for cattle and cow milk) requires participatory approach with national experts and stakeholders with experience in Senegal’s livestock system.

AICCRA Senegal partnered with Plateforme Innovation Lait (PIL) for this first-of-its-kind consultation in Senegal.

Experts and stakeholders in the livestock, meat and dairy value chains met in Dakar, and then in Richard-Toll in Northern Senegal, to take stock of existing and new climate-smart practices and technologies for livestock in the country.

"These workshops come at the right time because they will allow us to explore the appropriate responses to cope with drought, which has become a major constraint for the livestock sector," said Ousmane Mody Ba, a farmer and Vice President of the Plateforme Innovation Lait (PIL) in Dagana.

An innovative framework for prioritizing CSA practices was used – first developed by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) – which follows three key steps:

  • Identify and make an inventory of compelling practices, with the objective of drawing up a long list of CSA practices
  • Evaluate these practices known by experts and stakeholders
  • Finally, prioritize them

These prioritization steps consider several criteria such as climate smartness, gender, and social inclusion.

Prosper Houessionon leading a CSA prioritization workshop session.

A total of 14 climate-smart practices and technologies were identified and prioritized in the first instance, and then consolidated into four packages of CSA practices and technologies for the livestock and dairy in Senegal. These include:

Rangeland management: Pastoral hydraulics, corridors for movement, pastoral unit, vaccination park

Semi-intensive production/stabling:

  • Integration and improvement of fodder/forage species, mini-farms, storage warehouses, fodder depots, fodder bank and recycling of agro-industrial products (SPAI)
  • Index-based livestock insurance (IBLI)
  • Climate informed agro-advisories

Piloting and scaling-up of these CSA options will be supported by the preferences of the beneficiaries. Meanwhile, evidence will be generated on the potential social, economic and environmental benefits, through socio-economic analyses and scenario analysis through a variety of tools and models available.

Let’s break down some of the recommendations from experts and stakeholders:

  • The installation of mini-farms, storage warehouses and fodder depots help producers stock up on fodder to feed livestock in the dry season.
  • For livestock farmers, the installation of cattle, the availability of improved fodder varieties, water sources (water tanks, wells, and boreholes) and livestock mobility increase productivity regardless of seasonality.
  • In the milk sector, collection tools should be improved (including in the cold chain) to preserve hygiene and quality. This would facilitate the work of processors who, in turn, make energy a major input in their business.
  • To meet growing need for electricity and limit the systematic use of generators, producers should adopt solar energy technologies.
  • An alternative for processors would be to provide local services and supply of livestock feed in the form of credit, delay the departure of herders on transhumance (practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle) which would guarantee the collection of milk on site.

The prioritization exercise identified the best CSA options for large-scale adoption, through mechanisms such as the CGIAR initiatives, large-scale multilateral investments, as well as the gender-smart program and the climate-smart agricultural investment plans in Senegal.

Livestock dairy and value chain actors at AICCRA meetings held in Richard Toll in northern Senegal. 

"The benefits of these practices, when properly applied, will allow livestock actors to sustainably increase their meat and milk productivity while adapting and reducing greenhouse gas emissions," said Dr. Fafa Sow, a researcher in zootechnics, animal nutrition specialist at the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research (ISRA).

Breeding and fattening together are a popular activity among vulnerable populations (such as women and youth) in Senegal. However, on their own, these two groups struggle to maximize the benefits of rearing or fattening small ruminants.

Dr. Arona Diaw, Veterinarian, Secretary General, in charge of partnerships and external relations at La Laiterie du Berger and Coordinator of PIL, says that climate information and livestock insurance can be adequate tools for managing climate risks, if they are well developed and adapted to the context.

"Climate information can be used to guide transhumance according to weather forecasts in order to strengthen resilience, prevent disasters and losses, modernize production systems and secure production areas in a context of insecurity and terrorism in the Sahel. It can provide tools to better manage drought by building up fodder reserves," he said.

"Also, livestock insurance can play an important role in alleviating difficulties and ensuring reimbursements in case of damage, theft or death," he added.  

According to Dr. Diaw, insurance secures the investments of the actors and plays an important role in the professionalization of livestock production, especially for small producers.

Institutional, political, economic, and organizational barriers and constraints to the successful implementation of certain CSA practices.  

For Baba Ba, Geographic Pastoralist and Head of the Digital Divide project at ISRA in Saint-Louis, the solutions to scale CSA practices are:

"The insertion of the practices listed in existing platforms such as the [CIRAD Digital Divide] or new projects for the concrete use of climate-smart practices and information for the benefit of actors in the livestock-meat and dairy value chains."

The Compagnie Sucrière Sénégalaise (CSS) also plans to set up a pilot project of fodder crops on 50 hectares, an initiative that allows the implementation of climate-smart practices on fodder.

Dissemination tools and approaches proposed by workshop participants include WhatsApp groups (a fast and accessible source of news for herders) , community radio stations which broadcast in local languages, partnerships in the private sector (e.g. CSS-PIL) and the scaling opportunities through community projects led by local NGOs.

The contribution of community radios could be considerable, thanks to AICCRA’s partnership with the Union of Community Radios of Senegal (URAC), who signed an agreement with local radio stations for the recording and broadcasting developed by the project.

This is in addition to AICCRA’s collaboration with Jokalante, an agro-tech company specialized in broadcasting voice messages to agropastoral.

These two major broadcasting channels will help build modern extension systems to reach thousands of smallscale farmers and herders in project intervention areas in Senegal.


Prosper Houessionon, Senior Scientific Officer, AfricaRice and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Derek Chan, Post Doctoral Fellow, ILRI

Lamine Diedhiou, Communication Officer, ILRI

Nadine Worou, Scientific Coordinator, ILRI

Anthony Whitbread, Principal Scientist, ILRI