Oumar Ba, mayor of Ndiob, Senegal, is among recent winners of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s Future Policy Award for introducing agroecology, or sustainable agriculture practices, to his municipality with support from NCBA CLUSA’s Millet Business Services Project(MBSP).
With funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the project is building the capacity of smallholder farmers and producer organizations to access markets and add value to their crop.
Mayor Ba was one of three recipients to receive an Honorable Mention under the theme “Scaling Up Agroecology.” The award recognized his efforts to help the municipality of Ndiob be the first in Senegal to adopt agroecology practices.
During the 2016/17 growing season, MBSP signed a partnership with Ndiob with the aim of helping local millet farmers increase the quality and quantity of their yields by switching to organic fertilizers, biofortified millet seed and practicing conservation agriculture techniques like composting, crop rotation and diversification—all with the goal of restoring soil biodiversity and building the resilience and self-reliance of people in the region.
Part of the northern “peanut basin” in Senegal, Ndiob—located about 100 miles east of Dakar—has historically been a good legume and cereal crop production area. But the long-term effects of drought, climate change and poor soil management had depleted farmland, leaving the community struggling with growing poverty and food insecurity.
Seeing a need for change, Mayor Ba partnered with NCBA CLUSA. The launch of MBSP happened to coincide with his efforts to introduce agroecology to Ndiob.
To motivate local farmers to participate, Ba, community stakeholders and the project set up a joint Agricultural Development Program with the municipality of Ndiob. The city invested $19,500 (11,400,00 CFA Franc) and MBSP contributed $4,600 (2,712,500 CFA Franc) to develop and promote sustainable agriculture techniques by making organic fertilizers, seeds, tillers and more available.
As a result, farmers began to see an increase in crop yield and a positive change in soil health. On one 100-hectare demonstration farm, the team was able to increase millet crop yields from 350 to 1,000 kg per hectare.
“Imagine if we manage to standardize this practice in all the millet farms in the municipality,” Ba said.
The project’s success has introduced new opportunities for partnerships with organizations interested in the sustainable agriculture and, in particular, the conservation agriculture model that MBSP promoted, Ba added. Even Senegalese President Macky Sall wrote Mayor Ba a letter, applauding the local leader’s commitment to reducing food insecurity in Ndiob and beyond.
—The FAO’s Future Policy Award celebrates policies that create better living conditions for current and future generations by scaling up agroecology, protecting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and implementing climate-resilient agricultural practices.