July 10, 2008

Writethru: Senegal Committed to Achieving “Food Security”: Official

Writethru: Senegal committed to achieving "food security": official

DAKAR, July 9 (Xinhua) -- The Senegalese government has said it attaches great importance to the realization of "food security" in the country, especially in the wake of the ongoing global food crunch, Daouda Fall, a senior agriculture ministry official, said.

Fall, who is the special adviser to the Senegalese Agriculture Minister Amath Sall, made the remarks Tuesday during an exclusive interview with Xinhua.

Speaking on behalf of the agriculture minister, Fall said that "a country would not be considered as independent without being able to properly feed its population and ensure its food security. "

In order to achieve "food sovereignty," Fall said that Senegal would work to raise agricultural productivity through the use of high technology, cultivation of good seed varieties and the introduction of modern machinery.

"We are required to make efforts with regard to the sustainable management of our water and soil resources and also conduct training for farmers across the country," said the Senegalese agriculturalist.

Regarding the initiative dubbed the "Great Agriculture Offensive for Food and Abundance (GOANA)," launched by President Abdoulaye Wade last April as part of larger efforts to fight hunger, the special adviser said that "the success of this campaign will largely depend on the management of available technologies."

There is need to spur the use, not only of these technologies, but also methods that are adapted to the local conditions and also strengthen the capacity of farmers to produce more and better, according to Fall.

In his remarks, the agriculture ministry official said that the Chinese agricultural mission that is currently in the country was making a "positive impact" on the efforts of the Senegalese government to achieve food self-sufficiency for its people.

At the moment, a team comprised of about a dozen Chinese agronomists is in the West African nation conducting both theoretical and practical training sessions for truck farmers in Sangalkam, a Dakar suburb and rice farmers in Podor, in the north of the country, near the Senegal River Valley.

However, the agriculture specialist was quick to point out that technical training should be broader and that there was need to " develop local training capacities" in order to ensure that the Chinese expertise would spread throughout the whole of Senegal.

This, according to the agriculture ministry special advisor, was particularly critical with regard to the cultivation of good seeds and management of modern farming methods, which are the key to the country's drive to attain the elusive food security.

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