According to the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service’s GAIN Report, despite the country’s poor soil and tendency to experience drought, agriculture is the cornerstone of the economy of Senegal, employing 3/4 of the population of the country. The climate makes the region a prime area for growing, even in the off-season. The opportunity to export to more countries in Europe--and eventually to the United States--may allow Senegal to export their crops in greater numbers.
Mango is one of the main cash crops of the country. The tree provides both fruit and shade, and mangoes generally favor the coastal climate available on the Atlantic.
While some mango trees were brought to Senegal from India, the bush mango Irvingia wombolu Vermoesen is indigenous to Africa and grows in Senegal. The fruits of the bush mango are green to yellow at maturity. Those from Irvingia wombolu Vermoesen are considered inedible, but the kernels are saved for soup and considered valuable for trade because they are rich in fat and oil.
According to Oxford Business Group, in 2008 Senegal was the second largest exporter of cherry tomatoes in the world. Some of the country’s crop is used to make concentrated tomato paste. Senegalese cherry tomatoes can even be purchased in the Rungis market in Paris.
Peanuts are a rural crop and important to poor farmers as a main source of income. Both peanut oil and peanuts are processed and exported. Peanuts are a staple of the diet in the country; the crops feed livestock in addition to people. Peanuts also feed the soil by acting as a crop in rotation with millet.
The fruit of the Senegal Date Palm is a round, orange fruit that measures 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter. The heart of the palm can be eaten and the sap harvested. Add one of these palms if you want to experience a piece of Senegal on your own lot; the trees make a good accent piece in a suburban landscape. The tree produces flowers that range from white to grey. The branches can spread up to 20 feet wide, so plant the tree in a space with plenty of room to spread out.
The Senegal Date Palm is tolerant of most soils and most light conditions. The tree can grow throughout coastal California regions, most of Central and Southern Florida, in the extreme south of Nevada or Texas and into lower regions of Arizona.