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April 02, 2008

Senegal to aim for rice self-sufficiency by 2012

Hamath Sall, the Senegalese minister of Agriculture and Cattle Breeding has said that his country is committed to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production by the year 2012.

Speaking on the sidelines of the fourth convention between India and Africa on a partnership project, Mr Sall also revealed that a memorandum of agreement has been signed with Kirloskar Brothers Limited, the Indian company chosen to carry out the study related to the total development of the Senegal River valley, on an area of 240,000 hectares.

He also indicated that the first phase of the project will consist in redressing “the precarious development of 15,000 hectares,” stressing that the initial objective will be to recover 60,000 hectares.

“The aim will be to change all the irrigation material, which has become obsolete. The programme will be sponsored by India, for an amount of US$ 13.5 million”, he further mentioned.

Hamath Sall described the achievement of self-sufficiency in rice production as a necessity for Senegal, saying that rice imports to his country are estimated annually at around US $ 250 million. “This corresponds to a 2.5 points loss in growth for the Senegalese economy,” he said.

“As far as rice production is concerned, Senegal has more assets than Thailand, considering that our rates of yield are much higher, with six tons per hectare, against global rates of only 3.4 tons per hectare,” Mr Sall affirmed, while mentioning that the current rates could be even higher in the Senegal River valley, where in some fields rates of yield are as high as 9 tons per hectare.

Moreover, rice production could also be beneficial to cattle breeding, with the possibility of obtaining by- products like rice straw or bran for the poultry industry.

The Senegalese minister also indicated that rice has become very competitive due to a declining quantities, a situation which has led to higher prices.

“We have no other choice. If we fail to achieve food self- sufficiency, there will be a time when it will be impossible to find rice in the market,” Mr Sall affirmed.

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