Researcher, Farmers and Extensionists: a Rare Rendezvous in Senegal

In the tiny village of Pout, Senegal, Rodale Interna tional broke ground in the realm of agricultural research and extension last October 28 and 29. Researchers, farmers, and representatives from 13 NGOs came together for two days for the rare opportunity to exchange ideas, technical advice, experiences, problems, and solutions to improving the increasingly depleted soils of Senegal. The purpose of the workshop was to increase interaction between researchers, farmers, and extensionists to encourage the spread of technologies that are succeeding in regenerating soils and increasing food production.

The farmer workshop was organized in collaboration with the Senegalese Institute of Agricultural Research, (ISRA), and funded by USAID through Michigan State University. The workshop was held at the Society for the Development and Promotion of Agriculture, training site, about an hours drive west of Dakar. It consisted of one day of visits to on-farm research sites and to the ISRA/Bambey Research Station, followed by a day of discussion and an open forum for questions and answers. The workshop was conducted in Wolof, and 26 participants attended.

Site visits were made to villages were research was being conducted in the following areas:

  • Peanut crops with manure applications at the ISRA/Bambey Research Station, as well as a biogas production scheme that includes cattle fattening and compost production. Methane gas from this project is used to operate an irrigation pump for a vegetable garden.
  • Composting of crop residues and applications of compost to field trials at varying rates, as well as manure applications to peanut trials, in the village of NĠDiamsil. Manure applications amended with rock phosphate were also being conducted in NĠDiamsil.
  • Erosion control with rock bunds in combination with grasses and leguminous trees. This project is beginning to show visible results in fields between the villages of Tatene Serer and Tatene Toucouleur. Use of the A-frame to determine contour lines was also reviewed.
  • Haymaking and cattle fattening in Tatene Toucouleur. At each site there was discussion of difficulties encountered and possible solutions.

    On the second day, participants further shared experiences concerning all aspects of the evolution of their projects, which aroused the interest among those involved in different activities. Extensionists and researchers contributed technical expertise, but in many cases farmers were able to answer each others questions. Farmer discussion revealing an in-depth understanding of the projects in which they played a pivotal role.

    Participants traveled to Pout from many different regions of Senegal to exchange ideas and solutions, and many expressed interest in attending more workshops.

    Much valuable research never reaches the farmer, but gathers dust in offices and libraries all over the world. Bringing together the researcher, extensionist and farmer scatters the dust and puts ideas in motion.

    For a copy of the workshop report:

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