Rice is a strategic sector for food security and nutrition in Senegal. Under the impetus of the Government, the sector has undergone a clear consolidation in recent years, with a considerable increase in production volumes.
Rice occupies a prominent place in the consumption habits of the Senegalese population. Moreover, population growth and increasing urbanisation have significantly increased the consumption needs of this commodity, leading Senegal to resort to massive imports, which reached a net value of 207.6billion CFA francs in 2019, i.e. 957, 729 tonnes imported (source: NACE (Note d'Analyse de la Conjoncture Economique), 2019)... with an average consumption of 80 kg/year per capita, which makes Senegal one of the largest consumers of rice in Africa.
Rice alone accounts for almost 10% of the balance of trade and this phenomenon tends to increase over time, as national production is growing less quickly than consumption, which it only partially covers. Rice cultivation, which is practised under rain or irrigation, is a national issue and is arousing growing enthusiasm among producers, despite the economic difficulties.
The Programme for the Acceleration of Senegalese Agriculture (PRACAS) aims to achieve self-sufficiency in rice, among other objectives. PRACAS is being implemented to promote the production of high-quality white rice in Senegal, with a short-term target of 1.8 million tonnes, including 1.6 million tonnes of paddy rice. The total cost of the PRACAS is approximately 74 billion CFA francs.
The gap that needs to be filled to satisfy national demand for white rice is covered by imports, which weigh heavily on Senegal's trade balance and pose a real problem of food sovereignty.
To reverse this trend, the State authorities have launched the Programme d'Accélération de la Cadence de l'Agriculture Sénégalaise (PRACAS), which, in its rice component, aims at boosting rice production in all production areas (Senegal’s River Valley, Anambé Basin, rainfed rice-growing areas).
Thus, the promotion of local rice production to meet national demand is a strategic option for the State, reinforced by the uncertainties of the international rice market and the exceptional potential of Senegal's natural resources (abundance of water resources, land suitable for rice cultivation, favourable climate favouring two crops per year).
Rice imports fell significantly between 2016 and 2015 (- 2.77% in volume), thanks in particular to the qualitative and quantitative leap made by local producers, which considerably offset the significant need for imports, mainly from South East Asia. In addition, the consumption habits of the Senegalese population have recently shown a strong tendency to consume local broken rice, with local producers now having a real mastery of innovative agro-industrial transformation processes. COMPARATIVE ADVANTAGES
Thanks in particular to abundant land and water resources suitable for agricultural production, the potential of agriculture in Senegal is widely recognised, especially in the rice sector. The success stories of recent years provide ample evidence of the existing capacity of Senegalese and foreign private farmers in rice production. The climatic and soil conditions throughout the country provide an excellent environment for rice production:
- the natural environment gives Senegal a proven advantage over many countries, including some exporting countries of which Senegal is a client (climatic instability in South-East Asia, etc.);
- since its introduction, rice growing poduction has aroused ever-increasing interest among farmers. This interest has continued to grow, regardless of the status and motivations of the producer, the rice-growing ecosystems and the cropping systems, and in spite of cyclical difficulties;
- a synergy has been established with development structures, leading, among other things, to the introduction of high-yielding plant material (Sahel varieties)
- economically, the cost of local rice has become competitive with that of imported rice, and there is still room for improvement. At the same time, quality has improved significantly, increasing its demand at the national level.
STRATEGIC POSITIONING OF SENEGAL
Rice growing is an important part of Senegal's socio-economic development, underpinned by agricultural production in quantity and quality. A controlled and efficient local production would allow Senegal to enjoy proven opportunities on both domestic and foreign markets.
The creation of an attractive business environment to attract the interest of the private sector in the development of the rice sector, the production of quality rice, the increase in productivity and rice production in order to achieve self-sufficiency are major challenges to be taken up by the State of Senegal and the stakeholdersactors of the sector.
The climate is conducive to the double rotation of rice crops, the gradual return of multilateral technical and financial partners who are investing more and more in rice growing, and the current context of the international rice market are major opportunities to be seized.
Optimising the distribution of local rice necessarily involves adapting production to the requirements of the Senegalese consumer. Today, rice imports are conditioned by the very volatile price of rice, to which must be added banking conditions, and these factors play a major role in the setting of prices by importers. In view of the importance and dynamism of the domestic market, there are real opportunities for investment in the sector, in particular
In the development of agro-industrial units for the production of paddy rice;
In the end, self-sufficiency in rice appears to be an issue of: food sovereignty and security, aiming in particular at reducing the trade balance deficit.