The Senegal derives its main revenue from fishing, tourism and services. His economic expertise, particularly in the areas of environment, agriculture and food makes it an important global partner. Hence his presence at the Milan World Expo 2015 on the theme " Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life " was obvious. Its presence is ensured by the Senegalese Agency for Export Promotion (Asepex) and many Senegalese traders. This presence at the World Expo provides a unique opportunity for the country to showcase its economic projection and for companies to strengthen their international network and raise their level of exports.
1. The Pavilion of Senegal at EXPO 2015 Milan presents the theme « Produce, feed and protect: the challenges of food security and sustainable development in Senegal »
2. Why did you choose this theme and what messages would it allow you to communicate ?
Senegal is located in the western part of Africa's Sahel region where ecosystems face rapid degradation. Consequently, preserving the production base and the efficient use of natural resources are challenges that call upon stakeholders in the development process. For more than thirty years, Senegal has known a continuing drought, which has significantly affected its natural resources. This climatic deterioration was even more accentuated as it was intensified by negative human action such as inappropriate agricultural practices, abusive cutting, bush fires, not taking into account the farm pasture carrying capacity or abusive use of water resources etc.
Food security has always been a challenge for developing countries including Senegal. Generally, they resort to massive importation of food products in order to compensate for the poor agricultural production. That is why their trade balances are in deficit. Moreover, these food products are subject to price volatility, which makes them more and more inaccessible. This situation is a threat for food security in developing countries, which have great difficulties to get supplies from the global market.
Senegal like other developing countries seeks to face the food security challenge through various policies and programs aimed at increasing agricultural production, reducing import dependency, making food products available and accessible to consumers and preserving natural resources and biodiversity.
These measures are being taken in the context of climate change that threatens production systems and ecosystems, reduced natural resources for which sustainable management is indispensable, and precarious living conditions of the population, notably Senegal's rural population.
In light of these observations, the participation project was based on the following issues:
- adapting to unfavourable weather conditions
- ensuring food security by fighting against poverty and achieving food self-sufficiency
- feeding ourselves while preserving the environment (natural resources)
For the subthemes, the aspects taken into consideration are:
- food security
- sustainable development
- protection of the environment (preservation of resources as a key element for food security)
- water control
- adaptating to climate change
- food practices and traditions
- food production
- food self-sufficiency
- food production technologies
- transport and commercialisation
- storage and preservation
- importation of food products
- food development sectoral projects and protection of the environment
The 4 following axes were chosen:
- The issue of water control in the face of the food security challenge
- Research/ Development and innovation: the challenges of a safe and sustainable nutrition
- Food practices/traditions and public health in Senegal
- The impact of climate change on agro-sylvo-pastoral production and living conditions of the rural population
General message: strengthen Senegal's efforts to develop the agricultural sector in order to ensure food security in the face of an unfavourable environment (soil degradation, climate change, water resources management, human pressure...)
Specific messages based on the 4 subthemes:
a. Use our significant potential in water resources to reduce the dependency of our agriculture on pluviometry through, among others:
- Control of surface and ground water
- Collection and promotion of rainwater (retention basins)
- Development of irrigated farming which only represents 5% of the areas sown in Senegal
- Restoration and increase of hydro-agricultural developments (the river valley, the Anambé basin, the natural region of Casamance, etc)
- Improve the access to drinking water for the population by increasing drilling and wells.
b. Promote quality research and development to favour food security paying attention to:
- better popularization of the results of agricultural research
- the update of scientific data and techniques ( varietal maps, technical itineraries for production, processes, etc. )
- reinforcing the synergy between research, training, popularization and consultancy (SN RASP, SN CASP, CORAF, FARA etc.);
- strengthening the partnership between private sector and research
- promoting training for researchers and their motivation for sustainable research
- encouraging efficient research: training for researchers, motivation, improving technical facilities, etc.)
c. Nutrition, culture and health: together for a better life
- guarantee food security in the value chain
- convince people that food practices and traditions of a people are a key element of their cultural heritage
- build strong links between nutrition and health
d. Tackle the harmful effects of climate change
- raise awareness among communities about the impact of climate change
- popularize existing measures of adapting to climate change among vulnerable people
- -climate change requires a response and universal solidarity
3. How have you illustrated the theme in terms of design and visitor experience?
The seal of Senegal is made up of a lion, symbol of bravery and loyalty and a baobab, a typical tree of Senegalese flora.
Baobabs are located in tropical Africa, especially in sub-humid and semi-arid regions south of the Sahara. It cannot grow in tropical rainforest. It blooms with rainfall between 250 and 1000 to 1500 mm. It has no particular requirements regarding the soil but grows better on a limestone substratum or on deep spoils with very little humidity. It is common near habitations or as a witness of former establishments because it is sown and protected by the population.
The baobab, which is the emblem of Senegal, was selected as the symbol of our participation. Besides the common sight of this tree in nature, its image is deeply linked to the life of the country: various logos, advertisements for diverse products, references, quotations, emblem for administrative stamps... It has inspired poets, writers, painters, photographers, Scientists, and doctors... It has thousands of uses, notably food-related, cosmetic and medicinal uses.
This baobab, with all the symbolism it represents, is reproduced in the middle of Senegal's pavilion.
A smiling Senegalese woman carrying a calabash full of food is standing beside the baobab opening (entrance) as a sign of welcome.
Some uses of the baobab are also presented: the leaves (sauce preparation, powder of dry leaves for sticky rice or lalo for couscous), the fruits (bouye juice as a drink or anti-diarrheal remedy), the bark (for weaving ropes), bouye seeds ( for extraction of cooking oil) and the roots ( eaten like asparagus).
The visitor can explore a country of hospitality (téranga in wolof language), which is characterized by a real tradition of hospitality in order to please guests. Indeed, this legendary hospitality is an important part of the culture and is clearly a Senegalese value: guests are highly regarded.
That is why guests are always welcomed with a smile and kindness through rituals and celebrations of GANALE (TEERTU, TERAL, GANE).
The visitor can also see all the efforts made by Senegalese people to cope with an unfavourable environment through many development projects whose main goals are food self-sufficiency and beyond that food security.
4. Senegal is present within the Arid Zones Cluster. Why did you choose this cluster? What do you expect from this cluster in terms of best practices sharing, exchange of experience and development of cooperation programs?
Senegal exhibits in the cluster "Agriculture and Food in arid zones: the challenges of water scarcity and climate change". Indeed, more than 2 billion people live in arid zones around the world. Arid zones represent 41% of the earth's surface. However, these zones are often misunderstood and considered as unproductive and unfertile. On the contrary, they provide a living for almost 40% of the global population; such as the people who live in the Sahel area. In arid zones, agriculture is pluvial. In these areas, primary productivity is limited because of water scarcity (low annual rainfall and high evaporation). Consequently there is a situation of permanent food insecurity. In 2012, drought was back in the Sahel leading to famine for 1 million people in the region for the third time in the last decade.
The countries that share this cluster with Senegal have common problems: water scarcity, growing desertification, lack of soil fertility, overgrazing, etc.
People and communities, who live in these zones, have, contrary to popular thinking, sound knowledge of their environment and of the way in which it should be managed in view of their traditions and their circumstances.
The aim of this cluster is to promote the debate on respectful management of the environment and of natural resources in these countries. It perfectly fits with our goals.
We have decided to participate in this cluster, in order to
- show how know-how in terms of farming techniques, tools designed to master and adapt to environment conditions but also to present our traditions and cultural diversities in relation to the theme of the Cluster.
- promote cooperation in agriculture and food among the countries in the Cluster and to present the interpretation of the Expo theme in an innovative way
- evidence the fact that today, it is possible to guarantee food security and sustainable development for all mankind.
5. What impression of Senegal would you like to leave the visitors with?
We want to show a country that is struggling to reach economic emergence and consequently ensure its own food security. This aspiration to move towards better well-being is reflected in the vision of " An Emerging Senegal in 2035 with a united society and the rule of law". The strategic orientations that will guide the initiatives to be taken in order to transform this vision into actions and tangible results for the benefit of populations is based on three objectives:
- a structural transformation of the economy through the strengthening the current driving forces of growth and the development of new sectors which create wealth, employment, social inclusion and which have a strong export and investment attraction capacity. This objective is consistent with the idea of a more balanced development, the promotion of local production and viable economic activities to stimulate the potential for development throughout the country.
- a significant improvement of the living conditions of the population, a continued struggle against social inequalities while preserving the resources base and boosting the emergence of viable territories.
- reinforcing security, stability and governance, protection of humans rights and freedoms and securing the rule of law in order to create the best conditions for social peace and the full realization of all possibilities.
Further information can be downloaded from http://www.senegalexport.com/