Indigenous Agroecosystems in Senegal

Authors: Jean B Faye*, Centre College
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Environment, Africa
Keywords: Indigenous agroforestry, hybrid agrisystems, ecological sustainability
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 2:35 PM / 4:15 PM
Room: Roosevelt 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Indigenous agroecosystems, or the intentional use of trees and livestock in croplands, have a long history in the West African Sahel. In many locations, they have long contributed to food security and climate change resilience. But a century or more of cash cropping and use of modern agricultural inputs and tools has meant that no such agroforestry systems remain intact, and many are extinct, including in west-central Senegal, where the Serer historic mixed farming and pastoral strategies previously provided resilience to cyclical droughts and colonial-era agricultural and economic change but are now neither intact nor extinct. This study examines the current state of Serer agroecosystems, considering who uses what elements of the old systems, who has introduced what elements of nonindigenous farming systems, and whether this combination of local and imported farming systems is a coherent and sustainable fusion, or an incoherent pastiche leading toward agrarian collapse. I argue that, depending on how farmers integrate new models with the technical and cultural elements of the old system, a coherent fusion may result, with positive implications for sustainability, climate change adaptation, soil replenishment, crop yield, and livelihood resilience.

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