Sall The REVA plan in Senegal - does modern farming change minds of young people about agriculture?
The REVA PLAN in Senegal: Doesmodern farming of change minds of young people about agriculture? Mohamadou Sall Professor of Population Studies Cheikh Anta Diop University (Dakar, Senegal) Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The State of the question• Agriculture was and still remains the solid prop of domestic economy• Agriculture is the main occupation of Senegalese active population• Farming is not considered as a good job by young people• Engage these young people in agriculture will help Senegal to catch demographic dividend and his economy to take off
Research Questions• Did the engagement in modern farming through the REVA Plan change livelihoods of young people?• Did this engagement change minds and views of young people about farming jobs?• Did these changes lead young people to consider building a future in agriculture?
Hypothesis• First hypothesis: Young people engaged in modern farming through REVA Plan discover that agriculture can provide substantial incomes and that this discovery will change their minds and views about agriculture.• Second hypothesis: The change of minds depends on social characteristics of young people (gender, age group, wealth class, origin of residence: rural/urban)• Third hypothesis: The change of minds is associated with a re- consideration of their future engagement with farming.
Methodology: a qualitative approach• Semi-structured interviews with young people working on 11 farms set up by REVA plan.• We also interviewed REVA staff along with the personnel in charge of training young people. So, 70 persons were interviewed in total. Two focus groups were formed. Three agriculture technicians posted on the REVA plan farms with four REVA plan executives were also interviewed.
The Reva Plan: on overview• Set up by the act n° 2006-1336 on 29th November 2006• Set up in a particular context : illegal migration (mass exodus of young people using risky boats to reach Canary Islands).• No official statistics but according to many sources, 3000 deaths
Departments of the REVA Plan• Research, Settling and Infrastructures Department• Formation and Exploitation Department• Administration and Finance Department• Informatics, monitoring and Evaluation Department.
Objectives of REVA Plan• Increase the speed of land settlement• Equip the new settlements• Define and organise the agricultural working areas• Engage young people in farming jobs to fight against illegal migration and unemployment• Attract private investment• Define the vocation of farming areas.
Organization (1)• Modern farms in Senegal River Valley, Big Coast, Mbour area, Kaffine and Nioro departments, sylvo-pastoral area, Tambacounda Department and the South.• Choice of sites depends on : land availability and quality, accessibility of water (surface, and underground), types of crops likely to be produced in that area, proximity of an electricity source.
Organization (2)• Selection of Young farmers by a Committee Selection. This committee includes Subprefect, President of the Rural Community, a representative the youth and one of the women, and one National Rural Agriculture Council representative.• Process is participatory and inclusive.
Organization (3)• 80% of youth working on the farms are from neighbouring villages. In the targeting process, the REVA plan is particularly interested in areas stricken by rural exodus and illegal emigration. At the domestic level, young men are selected from households that are deemed eligible however. However, in cases where the household has given out an important land surface, two or three young people may represent them. If a household gives out a large piece of land and does not have any youth to sit for them, an adult may then join.
Key findings (1)• Break away from Fathers’ farming Ways :- First change : farming all time ;- Second change : using modern farming techniques : drip and sprinkler irrigation ;- Diversity of the crops vegetable crops (cabbage, tomato, red pepper, gombo, green peas and eggplants) and fruit (melon and water melons). The interest in this diversity resides in the production of high added value products such as green peas and water melon ;- Training support for young farmers ;- Creating or recreating social areas in the vicinity of the farm so that the farm area becomes an extension of village and its social life
Key findings (2)REVA plan and change of youth living conditions: different viewpoints• Important earnings to satisfy common needs : food, health expenses or ceremonies (weddings, naming ceremonies)• Prestigious actions :The building of a cement house is symbolic in Senegal because it stands for social success (this action is traditionally permitted by financial remittances) : Seen from this angle, agriculture via the REVA model can be as important as migration in fulfilling the dreams of young people
Key findings (3)Apparently, the involvement of women in the REVA plan has changed their living conditions and has increased their social status. Working on the REVA plan farms, the woman earns incomes equal to those of men, which helps her to satisfy needs and to get autonomy.
Key findings (4)• However, despite the breaks in tradition brought about by the REVA plan and the innovations in the farming domain, some young people remain doubtful and disappointed by it.
Key findings (5)• Some elements are pointed out : low income, sharing of the earnings, organization of the work (including black market)• If low incomes have been sometimes associated with the weakness of harvests, parasites attacks (worms in the case at Tivaouane Peulh), the low revenues were also attributed to the mode of work and how income was distributed. In fact the number of people sharing the income was in some cases high. The intercompany management syndicate (IMS) include a minimum of 20 people. After each harvest charges (for fertilizer and pesticides, fuel for irrigation, pay for agriculture workers ( “Sourghas”) tractor rent on farms like Ngomene and the expenses for carrying the products to markets) are deducted.
Key findings (6)Some of them stress the fact that those who dropped out in order to go to town keep keep their status as REVA farm workers by engaging others “on the black market” to be farm workers “sourghas”. These “Sourghas” after toiling hard have to share the income with “Sunday farmers” or “missing farmers” who live from the ground rent
Key findings (7): Careers in agriculture ?• The first category consists of some diehards who having picked the farming as a job, keep thinking of it as “a job by default”, meaning there was little if any choice. Generally in this category we find the most educated, like the young people from suburban areas already mentioned.
Key findings (8): Careers in agriculture ?• The second category consists of farmers with another job. They organize their schedule so as to alternate among the two activities. There are predominately traders and workman. That double job entails the reinvestment of gains from first job in the second.
Key findings (8): Careers in agriculture ?• The third category consists of those who have known about agriculture but mostly via the REVA programme which as we have seen can generate more income. That category includes many women – the REVA income gives then financial autonomy and increased social status.
Conclusion• From the analysis of the data collected, we see that the REVA Plan begins to change livelihoods and perceptions of young people about agriculture. Even if some young people remain doubtful and still consider farming as a “job by default”, we find a category of young people whocan envisage having a career in farming under certain conditions, like when there is a break from the old farming ways.
How to engage young people in agriculture ? Some recommendations
Recommandation (1)• Improve the earnings by undertaking bold actions intended to reduce costs that erode profits ; by identifying the circuits where young farmers can stock up with quality inputs (fertilizers, pesticides) at a lower cost. By negotiating with the Senegalese National Electricity Company – SENELEC - on preferential tariff arrangements for electric power at lower cost.
Recommendations (2)• Renegotiate at a lower cost “the Tenant Farming” with private companies that set up the irrigation system so that they provide system and irrigation network maintenance.• Develop a Plateform which is a kind of Trade Point, where the Economic Interest Grouping (EIG) of different farms will showcase their products indicating the harvest periods. Partners who are then the buyers will look at the products that interest them
Recommendations (3)• Involve young farmers in the FIDAK (Annual Fair of Dakar) and integrate them in the Agricultural fairs , per exemple delegation of the Ministry of Agriculture which flies annually to the Agricultural Fair of Paris. Finally, familiarize them with the different export systems to developed countries like the AGOA system for exports to the United States. For this, the REVA Plan can arrange presentation sessions of the Plan itself and conduct mission field visit at the farm for the benefit of embassies’ economic missions.
Recommendations (4)• Set up a support and advisory committee destined to support young farmers in establishing contracts with partners.• Set up a participatory mechanism that organizes and controls the work on the farm• Promote in management bodies of EIG internal, democracy that allows workers to express their views, to question the heads of the bodies on issues of work organization, management expenses and income distribution. Establish a regular mechanism for the accountability of bodies’ leaders
Recommendations (5)• Create the conditions for securing land rights of young farmers (entitlements). Therefore, encourage eventual fragmentation of land allocated to EIG so that each beneficiary is awarded a plot.
Recommendations (6)Insert into the television space (RTS state television and/orprivate television (2STV, TFM, WALF TV, CANNAL INFO NEWSAFRICA 7) a program designed to publicize cases of youngsuccessful in agriculture that can inspire others. Choose acatchy title like “The Young Farmers in the Heart ofModernity” or “The Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow,” “BeingYoung, Modern and Entrepreneur in Agriculture,” andbroadcast this program on a regular basis (once a month oronce every two months) at prime time. Provide broadcastpages just before the events that are very watched by youngpeople from all backgrounds like wrestling or internationalfootball matches of the national team.
Recommendations (6)• Allow a flexibily in farming ?Supporting young people in combining farming with a another job (out of farming).