Investment, not aid, has long been propagated as the answer to Africa’s economic problems. The recent success of the Senegalese Melon and Vegetable is part of a growing portfolio of evidence for the investment case.
French and Spanish agricultural firms have both financed the improvement of areas in Northern Senegal, which are now being used as modern farming centres, benefiting the locality enormously.
The Spanish development co-operation programme, headed by Juan Jose Lavin, invested $880,000 into the village of Djilakh and the surrounding area. The money was used to lay a supply road from the village to port, as well as creating a sink well, and irrigation capabilities.
The scheme, many more of which are on the way, has contributed in no small part to Senegal’s annual growth of four percent last year.
+ MORE AFRICAN BUSINESS REVIEW
The commercial programme means that the 2.5 tonnes of Melons harvested per day in Senegal will be shipped to Europe (Spain and France in particular) in a move profiting all involved. For the Senegalese villages, the agriculture industry provides a handful of promise for local Senegalese people, who can work in the Melon farms rather than having to leave Northern Senegal to find work elsewhere, as is the case with a large number of young Senegalese men. The Melon farms allow communities to keep together.
Madame Thiane, one of the female elders who oversee the projects on behalf of the European investors, said that “three years ago, our main thought was getting enough to eat. Today the village is a building site. With income from Melons, we are improving our homes.”
For the villagers of Djilakh, their Spanish-backed farm means they can now earn a profitable living close to home during the nine-month dry season, instead of having to travel to the coast or to Dakar to try to scrabble for survival.