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October 31, 2010

Senegal forecasts biggest peanut crop since 1975, good rice, millet harvests

by Drew Hinshaw

Senegal is expecting the 2010-2011 peanut harvest to be its most productive in 35 years and is forecasting good yields for millet and rice, the Agricultural Ministry said.

The harvest will exceed the 1.08 million metric tons of peanuts picked in the 2009-10 season, Malick Ba, head coordinator at the ministry, said yesterday in a phone interview from the capital, Dakar, without giving an estimate for the harvest. The previous season gave the highest output since 1975 when 1.2 million tons was harvested, according to agricultural ministry data.

State researchers are currently calculating the expected October-November harvest, Ba said. “It’s no longer a question of whether it will be a bigger harvest than last year’s, but a question of how much bigger it will be,” he said. The crop is picked again in April.

Peanuts account for 60 percent of Senegal’s agricultural exports, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Shipments by Suneor, the country’s biggest peanut-oil processing company, account for as much as 50 percent of the world market, according to a 2007 USDA country report.

Millet production is expected to exceed the 797,107 tons grown in 2009-2010, and rice output should be more than the 391,271 tons harvested last season, Balde Solme, bureau head for Direction for Agricultural Analysis and Forecasts, said.

The West African country’s rice output doubled between 2007 and 2009. Power outages that stop irrigation pumps in the northern rice-growing region may reduce this season’s crop, Mamour Gaye, technical adviser to the Agricultural Ministry, said on Aug. 5.

Good rains compensated for those electricity outages, Solme said.

“The main factor in determining Senegal’s agricultural output is rainfall patterns, and right now we are in a period of especially good rains that we expect will continue for several years to come,” he said.

Senegalese farms employ as much as 75 percent of the country’s workforce.


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