Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Agriculture in Senegal

Bio-Terre is a company involved in innovations in farming methods here. We toured a rice processing plant, which was fascinating, but my camera batteries died the moment we jumped out of the bus, so I can't show you the hand pouring of the rice into a machine that separated the hull from the rice and the fan that blew away the chaff. Nor can I show you the stream of workers carrying both bags of rice and bags of chaff to the next part of the process. While there are some dangers to livestock from silicone. They use it to feed some livestock in the area. The process works, but does not produce enough rice to feed Senegal, so rice is still being imported as well.
The town that hosted our tour of some local agriculture was Ross Bethio. Our guide, Mr. Djibril Diao, the executive secretary of the Amicale, spoke to us of "The Amicale de Waalo, Ross Bethio".
It was this tree that gave us a reason for a pit stop on the travel day home from St. Louis. We crawled in and out of the hollow center and posed for pictures. The baobab tree is known as the upside-down tree of Africa because the branches look like roots, and I understand that the trees do not have any considerable root structure. There are many baobabs around Senegal, but none as big and old as this one. Baobab juice is a common choice for breakfast and lunch. It is made from the seed of the tree. The leaves are used in the same capacity as Pepto Bismo (IYKWIM).
In order to see the century-old baobab tree on our way to St. Louis, we had to tip-toe through the peanut plants. They were still young and tender. The twenty sets of foot steps could have done quite a bit of damage. That's significant if, in order to be a successful Senegalese farmer, you most likely till the earth with a single horse or donkey and a small, hand-guided plow. I have seen some tractors, but from my limited observations, most work the land by hand.
Rural towns have a mix of grass huts and concrete cinder block structures. This one is on a street with businesses and vendors nearby. But pastoral compounds usually are fenced with sticks that surround round huts and a couple of concrete buildings.
These little horses work hard in both the city and the country. I've seen them hauling people, furniture, bags of grain, mattresses, etc. Whatever needs to move from one place to another probably can be moved on a horse-drawn cart. This one waits near the rice mill.
Bags of rice hull, millet, or straw provide a resting place for this little guy who was amused by the spectacle we created.
We walk out to the rice fields. (I'm going to try to bring a handful of rice stalks home. Don't tell the agriculture department at the airport.)

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