FoodAfrica work package 3 has organized a series of events during the winter to disseminate both technical and empirical information on climate change to stakeholders in Senegal.
At the end of February ISRA, IFPRI and Luke team organized a Mardi du BAME policy conference “L’Agriculture sénégalaise à l’épreuve du Changement climatique” which was aimed at francophone audience. It was an opportunity to discuss the resilience of Senegalese agriculture in the face of climate change from a non-technical perspective and to reach a wider audience.
Availability of irrigation water decreases as the climate becomes drier
The event focused around three themes and presentations. Amy Faye, an ISRA scientist and doctoral student of FoodAfrica, presented how the availability of irrigation water decreases as the climate becomes drier and how this impacts horticultural and agricultural production in the Niayes region of Sénégal. She highlighted that in the face of climate change, the farmers are likely to decrease the land allocated to the cultivation of irrigated horticultural crops.
Despite the possibility of irrigation, the area allocated to crops with high water requirements or low returns are expected to decrease the most. These include crops such as carrots, potatoes and eggplants.
The benefits from optimizing the water resource management appear to be limited. Therefore, groundwater management should be examined holistically. In addition to promoting water-saving irrigation techniques, it is important to reinforce recharge for instance through rainwater harvesting.
Climate change and increasing livestock population may increase the importance of transhumance
Professor Jarkko Niemi from Luke examined how extensive livestock husbandry based on transhumance (seasonal movement of livestock to find pasture) could be affected by weather shocks in the Ferlo region in the northern Senegal. Transhumance and adjusting the size of herd are resilience strategies for herders. Therefore, climate change and increasing livestock population in Ferlo may increase the importance of transhumance. Transhumance is largely driven by drought although other motivations may affect it particularly in years when the amount of rainfall is not limiting the availability of feed.
Niemi highlighted that developing efficient feed markets might increase the resilience of livestock owners. However, the price of fodder should be kept at minimum because common pasture is inexpensive to an individual herder. Subsidized feed transports and planting of drought-tolerant trees suitable for animal feed may also benefit the herders who prefer not to move and who are purchasing a lot of supplementary feed. Public relief aid would also help the herders to survive over harsh times without losing their livestock.
An action plan is needed in order to meet the goals of Paris agreement
Dr. Ousmane Ndiaye, a speaker from the National Agency of Civil Aviation and Meteorology, Sénégal, concluded the workshop by presenting how the pact of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) held in Paris is expected to affect Sénégal. He pointed out how climate change is expected to increase temperatures, reduce the amount of rainfall and increase problems due salinity, seawater level rise and extreme weather. Measures agreed in Paris are expected to mitigate climate change. COP21 also outlines measures to finance the pact. In Sénégal the actions focus on areas such as rice cultivation and increasing the use of renewable energy. An action plan is needed in order to meet the goals of Paris agreement.