In Senegal the consumption of rice amounts to approximately 90 kilos a person over a year. More than 70% is imported. Rice is cultivated in Senegal but it is not enough to cover the need for rice.
Rice is grown chiefly in family-owned businesses in Senegal. This local cultivation does not easily find its way outside the production zone: 75% is consumed locally and does not make it to the big cities. But the demand for rice is growing both in the cities and everywhere else in the country. To meet this demand, huge amounts of Asian rice are imported.
Situation in Senegal
The traditional cultivation of rice in Senegal still relies on rain for its water supply, but only with irrigation methods can marketable harvest surpluses be generated. The main production zone lies to the north of the country in the valley of the Senegal River. Its return is one of the highest in the world (6 tonnes/ha). And there are few illnesses. The biggest threat are the seed eating birds.
The majority of the growers in the valley are families (36,000) working on small plots (less than one ha). To irrigate their fields they have grouped and organised themselves around irrigation systems, which comprise a bank around basins, pumping plants and a network of irrigation and drainage canals. There are only about 200 private growers who work in a more commercial context; together they generate 15% of the production and work on plots of land of 20 to 40ha.
Establishment of Terral
In this context Durabilis, a Belgian social investment company, established Terral* in 2011. Already after two years Terral proved that local rice is equivalent to imported rice in every aspect.
One major challenge remained: increase production to restrict imports and guarantee local farmers a decent income. In other words it concerns a strategic effort for the country to meet its own food requirements.
Terral processes and sells the white rice of small local companies and also offers technical and financial support throughout the entire production process.
Terral is the link between 700 family-owned businesses and the market and guarantees the quality of the offer with a programme of technical assistance and permanent follow-up. The farmers also work with one of the biggest microfinancing organisations in Senegal to fund the rice production, logistics, employees….
Alterfin gave Terral a loan of EUR 250,000. This can be used to buy rice from the farmers in order to process and commercialise it.
Terral's main objective is to sell the local rice at a fair price and give these small growers a decent income. And although Terral does not have a Fair Trade label, it still defends the same values which, like Alterfin, we also feel strongly about. By supporting Terral, Alterfin confirms its support for the development of sustainable family agriculture.
Alterfin thus hopes to contribute to an increase in the rice production in Senegal for the Senegalese people.
*The word Terral comes from "Wolof", the main language in Senegal, and refers to the Senegalese goddess Terranga "who welcomes". And what better way to do this than with a delicious bowl of rice!
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