Potato was first introduced into Senegal around the beginning of the twentieth century by Europeans who settled in the country. Over time, producers in Senegal acquired knowledge and expertise to enable them to become major vegetable suppliers for the Dakar, Rufisque, Thies and St. Louis markets.
Around the turn of the millennium, Senegal adopted a development strategy for potato production, in order to limit the country’s dependence on European imports but was held back by constraints within the supply chain and the availability of appropriate seed potato. When this became clear, the Senegalese government started to invest in the purchase of quality seed potatoes.
The majority of potato cultivation in Senegal is carried out in the Niayes area, a coastal stretch from Dakar to St. Louis that offers favorable weather conditions and along the Senegal River delta. Water availability remains the principal limiting factor for the crop. Production occurs between the months of October and April. Senegal has two production cycles — early cropping from October to December, and late cropping from January to April. An average yield of 25-30 tonnes per ha can be achieved, although yield levels depend on farm size, water availability and management.
Although most potatoes are traded through a network of collectors, small grenaille (new potatoes) are sold directly by the farmers in daily local markets.