Notes to broadcasters
Salinization of soils, meaning higher than usual levels of salt in the soil, is one of the major environmental problems facing the world, and in particular, small-scale farmers. In coastal Senegal, frequent movements of salt water into groundwater or river water and a continuous decrease of annual rainfall help increase soil salinization.
As this script outlines, while some crops can grow in soil with a certain level of salt, high salt content makes crop production virtually impossible.
Soil becomes saline (salty) in a variety of ways. Near the coast and in river estuaries, salty seawater can invade low-lying land. Poor irrigation and land drainage practices can also increase salt content in the soil, especially when irrigation water is salty.
This script explores the problems of soil salinity in Senegal and introduces some of the solutions that small-scale farmers have used to try to address the problem.
This script is based on actual interviews. You could use it as inspiration to research and write a script on soil salinity or a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.
You could also use the script as research material or as inspiration for creating your own programming on saline soils. Talk to farmers, agricultural officers, and other experts. You might ask them:
- What is the history of soil salinity in the area?
- What is the impact on farmers?
- What solutions have farmers and other experts found to address these challenges?
Apart from speaking directly to farmers and other experts, you could use these questions as the basis for a phone-in or text-in program.
The estimated running time for this item, with signature tune, intro, and extro, is 15 minutes
This is the case in Senegal where many areas are affected, especially Sine Saloum, which includes Fatick and Kaolak regions. There, we met farmers who were affected by saline soils. In the absence of effective and accessible solutions that could help them produce in spite of the high salt content, we heard that farmers grow other crops that are more resistant to salt or simply shift to extracting salt to earn a living.
(PAUSE)In Ngane, in Kaolack region, we met Assane and Ousseynou Sokoma, twins who operate a farm together. Please tell us how things work on your farm.
To solve this problem, we decided to go to town and to areas where the groundwater was not salty to get water for plants. But we couldn’t continue with this because it was exhausting and expensive. We needed a lot of water and it became difficult and even impossible to transport it to the village. Consequently, we lost much of the expected yield that year.
Unfortunately, we paid 450,000 CFA francs (about $775 US) to dig the well and only realized later that the water was salty. Some farmers suggested that we dig a well at another place in the farm. This would have cost the same as the first, but there is no guarantee that we would find non-salty water. It’s a question of luck, and under these circumstances, investment is risky.
Apart from vegetables, we also reared poultry. We had hundreds of chicks, but as their development was also slow, we abandoned this activity. In the long term, they weighed less than chickens raised on farms in non-salty areas.
When soil salinity is caused by human activities such as agriculture or urbanization, we call itsecondary salinity.
But salinization can also be caused by salty irrigation water. For example, in the village of Ngane, in Kaolak region, the groundwater is salty. So, when we irrigate and then the water drains out of the soil, some of the salt stays in the soil and the salt concentration increases. There is another phenomenon called sea intrusion. In areas near the sea where there is a depression, salty sea water moves to the lower land, making it saltier than higher land.
For salinity that is caused by natural phenomena like climate change and sea intrusion, there is a need for mechanical methods. Dikes should be set up to prevent sea water from seeping into the ground. For secondary salinization generated by poor farming practices, farmers need to be trained to reduce or even anticipate the salinity process. For example, farmers can avoid getting water from irrigation canals and use river water instead. Using river and rainwater should be promoted.
Contributed by: Omar Bally Baldé, journalist, Dakar, Senegal.
Reviewed by: Djibril Ba, water and forest engineer, forest management expert
Ousseynou Sokoma, producer, co-owner of the farm “Les jumeaux”
Assane Sokoma, co-owner of the farm
Moustapha Cissé, Chairperson, National Union of Agricultural Cooperatives
Aliou Ba, agricultural stakeholder, Kaolack
Yacine Badiane, Director of the National Crop Production Research Laboratory, Senegal Agricultural Research Institute (ISRA)
Thanks to the following people for their assistance with arranging the interviews:
Dr. Alione Fall, Executive Director, Senegal Agricultural Research Institute/Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Kaolack, City Hall of Fatick and
Mbayang Ndiaye Cor, Journalist, Radio Economique Trade FM, Dakar.
All interviews conducted in October 2018.
This resource was developed with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through Global Affairs Canada.