From the Inter Press Service, Koffigan Abigbli looks at one thriving farm.
Watering cans in hand, men and women move back and forth between the wells and water storage tanks and the crops they’re watering: carrots, onions, tomatoes, cabbage, and potatoes, as well as fruit trees like palm, coconut, papaya and banana trees. Growers like Ahmadou Sene are working tirelessly to produce vegetables in and around the Senegalese capital.
Sene, in his forties, has a one-hectare plot. For three months of the year, he has a dozen young people to hoe and weed the garden, and for four months a group of 20 women work to harvest and sell his produce.
“Vegetables make up more than 80 percent of my crops,” he said, gesturing towards his garden. He cultivates his field year round, and harvests nearly 12 tonnes of vegetables each quarter....
But while urban farming is growing, farmers are facing difficulties linked to access to land, the marketing of vegetables, the recycling of water for irrigation, and access to financing.
Even as the cultivated area is growing, some farmers are struggling to find land to expand their operations.
“In 2010, I had an 800 square metre field. I was able to turn a profit of 600,000 CFA (about 1,200 dollars). But this year, I’ve only got 350 square metres to farm, because the government has taken over a large portion of my land for a dam to hold water,” said Cheikh Mor Ndiaye, a grower at Cambérène, one of the sprawling suburbs on the outskirts of the capital.
The president of the administrative council of the Federated Cooperative of Horticulturalists of Senegal (CFAHS), Cheikh Ngane, told IPS that while garden farming provides livelihoods for a good number of Senegalese, it is undermined by the recurring problem of access to land.
“Most horticulturalists are working with land that belongs to the state. To develop horticulture, it’s important to resolve the problem of land,” he said, adding that the problem is aggravated by competing claims from developers working on residential housing developments.
The issue of land ownership can also lead to problems obtaining credit. “For example, if someone has their own plot, assigned to them by the rural community, bankers are not confident when they ask for a loan,” said Cheikh Ngane.