Ibrahima Diakhate, Farm Owner
Ndeye Khady Ly, Project Manager
Rhianna Taylor, Peace Corps Volunteer
As a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal, I began working with a number of entrepreneurs to help promote economic development. One of my work partners was Ibrahima or “Ibou”, a farmer in the village Tawa Fall. After working together for a year, we saw the opportunity to establish an animal husbandry arm as a complement to his farming efforts.
Raising funds through the Peace Corps Partnership Program, we built a chicken coop in partnership with The Nubian Vault Association, a non-profit organization that builds affordable and sustainable housing throughout Africa.
In Senegal, agricultural yields are often unpredictable due to pests, an inhospitable climate, and a lack of resources. In the event of a good harvest, farmers’ profitability is still limited — a saturated market means with falling prices, thereby reducing the profitability of crops. With these factors in mind, our main challenges were:
1. How can we increase food security in a low-resourced environment?
2. How can we boost income generation amid agricultural unpredictability?
solutions: how can we increase food security in a low-resourced environment?
Chickens for the village.
During day-to-day life in Senegal, I observed that apart from chickens, most available meat comes from larger livestock like goats and cows. Without access to electricity (and hence, refrigeration), meat had generally reserved for consumption on holidays or special celebrations in Tawa Fall. However, as a smaller animal, chickens had the advantage of being easily consumed in a single family meal and not requiring refrigeration for leftovers. As a result, raising chickens in the village improved access to meat.
I came to know about the French nonprofit The Nubian Vault Association through Ndeye Khady, a friend and daughter of another work partner. The organization works throughout sub-Saharan Africa to promote sustainable architecture. Bricks are made from local dirt with simple wooden molds, as opposed to the imported cement blocks that are used on most buildings.
The domed ceilings are also a stark contrast to the average area roof, which is a few flat sheets of steel. The innovative design of these structures mean their interiors invert the exterior temperature. More simply: when it’s hot outside, it’s cool inside, and vice versa. This temperature regulation is ideal for raising chickens, who cannot sweat and as a result, do not have the capacity to regulate their own temperature.
solutions: how can we boost income generation amid agricultural unpredictability?
Filling unmet demand for chickens.
After living within the community, it became apparent that demand for chicken is strongest around special celebrations — particularly Korite, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. While chickens are generally understood to be a luxury food, the local demand is high and supply is low. Tawa Fall sits between three larger metropolitan areas with disposable income (Thies, Mbour, and the capital Dakar), making it well suited to sell to customers within these three markets.
A complementary compost business.
The waste and shed feathers of the chickens would prove to be valuable as well, enriching compost made on the farm. Higher quality compost was sold to other neighboring farmers in the area as a side business, while also helping to boost agricultural productivity on Ibou’s own farm.