Senegalese women and youth empowered for climate-smart seed production

With growing demand for quality seeds in Senegal, ambitious initiatives aim to empower local women and young farmers in seed production techniques, boosting food security and promoting sustainable farming practices in a changing climate.

Farmers consistently face seed supply challenges in Senegal, whether due to losses caused by weather conditions, disease, or poor storage.

In response to this problem, partners in the AICCRA Senegal project such as the Agence nationale de conseil agricole et rural (ANCAR), the Centre d'étude régional pour l'amélioration de l'adaptation à la sécheresse (CERAAS) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) are actively promoting initiatives for small farmers to join seed cooperatives, in order to solve the problems associated with access to quality seeds and the supply of agricultural inputs at an affordable cost.

In collaboration with ANCAR and with the support of the Direction Régionale de Développement Rural (DRDR) - a decentralised structure of the Senegalese Ministry of Agriculture - this partnership aims to transform the management committees of the 'Farmer Field Schools' into formalised seed cooperatives.

The role of these committees is to educate their members about cultivation techniques and the conservation and restoration of agricultural land, but above all to inform livestock farmers about the management of pastoral corridors and techniques for improving livestock feed.

"This initiative is designed to encourage small producers to work together, pool their resources and manage their farming activities collectively," explains Nadine Worou, AICCRA’s Scientific Coordinator in Senegal.

Demonstration plot of improved millet seed at the Daga Birame technology park (Kaffrine Region)

By setting up a seed cooperative, smallholder farmers hope to solve their problem of access to quality seed, increasing yields and incomes.

Against this backdrop, workshops were organised in Thièle, Daga Birame and Méouane, three of AICCRA Senegal's four focus areas in Senegal, to support the formalisation of management committees into cooperative companies in the groundnut, millet, cowpea and livestock value chains.

These meetings were attended by nearly a hundred participants, including ANCAR agents, the private agricultural sector, and producers and breeders from the local government departments of Linguère, Kaffrine and Thiès.

Meeting the growing demand for quality seeds

The creation of certified seed production cooperatives is a direct response to the growing demand for quality seed in Senegal. The emphasis is on improving crop yields and guaranteeing food security.

This initiative emerged from the cowpea farmer field schools in Thièle, where farmers identified a major problem in accessing and using certified seed.

During farmers demonstration days in 2022, AICCRA and ANCAR enabled farmers to see the significant differences between certified seeds and traditional seeds in terms of production and profitability.

To resolve this problem, the Management Committees of the Farmer Field Schools of Thièle, Daga Birame and Méouane sought and obtained support from the AICCRA project to formalise their structure. The creation of these cooperatives represents a key mechanism for bringing farmers together, facilitating collaboration and establishing efficient distribution processes for the new varieties. These cooperatives will act as central platforms where farmers can meet, exchange knowledge, access resources and plan the production of these seeds. In total, nine management committees have benefited from this formalisation.

In total, 9 management committees with more than 1,726 members have benefited from these formalizations.

Comparison between an improved groundnut variety promoted by AICCRA and an old peasant variety at Koumpentoum (4th AICCRA Senegal cluster)

"Thanks to this formalisation, we now have access to financing for the purchase of agricultural equipment, inputs and certified seeds. This will considerably improve our working conditions and increase our income. We are also now stronger as a group and better prepared to face the challenges of the climate", said El Hadji Gueye, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the new "Ande Jappo Liguey" seed cooperative in Thièle.

By supporting this formalisation, AICCRA is contributing not only to the empowerment of farmers, but also and above all to the promotion of more productive and sustainable agriculture.

"Formalising the management committees of farmers' field schools into seed cooperatives has many advantages," says Dr Fatimata Bintou Hassedine DIOUF, Director of Research, Development, and Innovation at ANCAR.

"By pooling their resources and sharing responsibilities, farmers can access financial and technical resources more easily. It also strengthens their position on the market by enabling them to negotiate collective sales contracts and obtain better prices for their products," she added.

To strengthen the autonomy and sustainability of newly created seed cooperatives, ANCAR and the Direction Régionale de Développement Rural (DRDR), with the support of the AICCRA project, have launched a series of training courses on seed production techniques.

Presentation of the different types of cowpea varieties in production at the Daga Birame Technology Park

During these training sessions, farmers were given a unique opportunity to acquire essential skills in the production of quality seeds, with a focus on the cowpea, millet and groundnut varieties.

Production of these crops—which are fundamental to Senegal's food supply—will benefit from local supply of quality seeds, reducing dependence on imports.

The training sessions also covered other aspects, such as selecting varieties suited to local conditions to sustainable crop management, and seed multiplication techniques. Practical workshops were also held in the field, enabling farmers to apply the knowledge they had acquired.

Gora Samb, a leading farmer in the Thiès region, was enthusiastic about the new skills he had acquired:

"This training course is a godsend for us. Not only are we learning how to produce our own seeds, but also how to select them according to our needs. This will certainly improve our yields, but above all it will give us access to first-hand seeds".

AICCRA also supports training in cooperative management, the drafting of by-laws and internal regulations, the introduction of participatory governance systems, financial and accounts management, and skills development for management committees.

By encouraging local seed production, the project is making a significant contribution to the resilience of rural communities and long-term food security in Senegal.


Nadine WorouScientific Coordinator, AICCRA Senegal and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Anthony Whitbread, AICCRA Senegal Country Lead and Principal Scientist, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)

Lamine Diedhiou, Communication Officer, AICCRA Senegal and International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)