Traditionally, Senegalese people are the people of farmers. Of the 10 million inhabitants of Senegal, 7 million are peasants, more than half of the country’s land is reserved for agriculture. Despite this, agriculture does not bring much income to the country. Maybe because Senegal is forced to import the main food product – rice. About 390,000 tons of rice are imported annually, mainly from Thailand. In fact, rice is also grown in the south of Senegal by the diol people, according to ancient technology, but this rice is used mainly for the needs of the diol itself, and practically does not go on sale. Senegal also grows wheat and other cereals. Harvested once a year, after the rainy season, which helps Senegalese to do without complex irrigation systems.
Wheat is used to make a very popular dish in Senegal – couscous. But rice still remains the food base, despite the fact that wheat costs 2 to 3 times cheaper.
While driving along the roads of Senegal, you can see on the side of the road women selling corn cobs roasted right on the coals. This corn is grown in small gardens, there are practically no large fields.
The French colonialists introduced a peanut monoculture in Senegal. Senegal still produces 700,000 tons of peanuts per year. Peanuts are used to make butter, soap, and chocolate peanut butter, which is popular in Senegal, is made from it. Peanuts are also part of many national dishes.
Peanuts are grown in large fields, most of which belong to the leaders of the most widespread and influential Islamic sect of the Murids. Murids often work for free on their teacher’s peanut plantations.
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The land of Senegal is fertile for the production of fruits and vegetables. There are many of them: mangoes, bananas, avocados, lemons, watermelons, papaya, as well as all European vegetables (carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers) and many others that do not even have a name in European languages.
If you are in Senegal from May to November, then you will just get to the mango season. Of course, in Dakar they are not too cheap: about 1 dollar per kilogram. Dealers are inflating prices. But if you leave only 2-3 kilometers from Dakar, you will see that along the road are women selling freshly picked mangoes, and not with kilograms, but with basins, for a ridiculously low price. And what a variety of varieties! Small, semi-wild, with fibrous pulp, and large, green or red, with sweet yellow or orange pulp. Most mango grows in the south of the country, in Casamance. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to take out mangoes because of the poor condition of the roads, and most of the fruits rot on the spot.
Senegal has many coconut trees. On the streets of Dakar, you can see young people slowly driving a cart full of heavy coconuts to the top. Would you like to taste? Stop the seller, and for 400 cents he will choose what coconut you want – filled mainly with coconut milk or pulp (this depends on the degree of maturity of the coconut). The seller cleverly plows coconut with a special hatchet, and you can quench your thirst right on the spot.
Different types of cattle are adapted to different areas of Senegal. Large bulls are bred in the north of the country with a large hump filled with fat and huge horns. This is a zebu. They easily tolerate drought and can do without water for several days. In the south of Senegal, in Casamance, smaller bulls are bred. It is red in color and similar to European ones. Cattle breeding is traditionally carried out by one ethnic group – fulbe. They have a particularly reverent attitude towards their herds: after all, the wealth and weight in society in fulbe are determined not by money, but by the number of herds.
Everywhere in Senegal, one can find flocks of smooth-haired sheep of local breeds. They can be seen even in Dakar, in poor areas, where almost every family tries to have two or three sheep. How can they feed them? Very simple: sheep are allowed to walk freely in the streets in search of food. Sheep eat everything that comes across, even newspapers. Goats roam the streets of poor neighborhoods, eating around the already stunted trees and shrubs.
Senegal is one of the most developed African states. In Senegal, there are branches of many large international companies. Plants producing popular car brands have representatives in Senegal. Senegal is also the largest exporter of phosphates, because the country has a large stock of this raw material.
Senegalese fabrics are famous throughout Africa for their beauty and quality.