Tracking a Tractor in the Peanut Basin

In December of 2014, I set out with AYWA field partners Abdoulaye Diop and Saidou Ba on a trip to Saidou’s home-town to what’s known in Senegal as the peanut basin. Located in central Senegal, just north of The Gambia, this area is now famous for it’s production of cash crops such as peanuts, millet and corn. The region is anchored by the capital city of Kaolack, an overgrown and bustling town that epitomizes urban african sprawl. From Dakar, we passed through Kaolack and quickly left it behind us heading south into the dry, green, rural farm-land. Our destination was Saidou’s village where we went to report, assess and inform on a tractor he had brought down there less then a year before.

We spent the next couple of days traveling between villages where the tractor had been. We spoke with farmers and families, Pular and Wolof a like, trying to find out some basic information that would help us understand the efficacy of the machine in this rural setting. Furthermore, we wanted to assess its financial viability and sustainability as a small entrepreneurial endeavor.

We asked: Who are the people using the tractor? What are they using it for? What time of year? How much does it cost to clear x amount of land? How much fuel does it consume per hectare? And many, many more questions of the like.

Here is a profile of a farmer, his land and community:

Farmer Layti 3 Community Tractor 1

Name: Layti Ka

Age: 22

Where: Thieriakh Saara Ngathie, South Kaolack. A Pular village of a couple

hundred people where seasonal agriculture is the main form of income. Layti

is one of the three providers for a family of 20.

Farm: This is family owned land and is worked primarily by him and another

brother, he grew Watermelon, millet and corn in this past season. Total farm size

is 5 hectares. Harvest labor usually get’s outsourced to local women or family.

Produce is consumed by the family and sold to market. This community also

relies on cows for income. Also, he owns a horse, which he uses to seed and to transport things to and

from the field.

Soil type: Sandy loam and has places with high concentration of clay

Land cultivated by tractor to date: 1 1/2 hectares of land that now bears

watermelon.

Tractor cost: 60,000CFA to clear the field and till the soil – two runs on the land

This is his first season using the tractor.