Agro-business for biofuels in the Ndiaël Reserve, by Senhuile-Senethanol S.A., Senegal

Senhuile S.A. project to cultivate bio-fuels in the Ndiaël has been a failure. Yet the company remains present on the 20.000 hectares granted by Presidential decree, disrupting the locals' grazing lands.


En Français ci-dessous ------------ Given its fertile land and hydraulic resources, Northern Senegal (Saint-Louis region and the Senegal River valley) is coveted by the agri-business multinationals since the 2007-2008 food crisis with the support of the Senegalese national government. The latter, launched in 2009 the Great Offensive for Nature Abundance Program which aimed at easing the granting of arable land to foreign companies. Multinational of agro-fuels have also entered the game, presenting agro-fuels as a solution to Senegal's energy deficit. It is in this context that Senhuile S.A. arrived to Senegal. At the beginning, the project of Senhuile S.A. was intended to settle in the commune of Fanaye. The municipal council approved the acquisition of the lands by the foreign company without the preliminary consultation of the inhabitants who objected and on October 26, 2011, 20 villagers were injured and two died in a violent conflict. Then, President Abdoulaye Wade suspended the project in Fanaye but on March 20, 2012 he signed two presidential decrees through which he first downgraded the qualification of the Ndiaël reserve and then allocated 20,000 hectares (out of the 26,500 hectares of the former reserve) to Senhuile S.A. Only the remaining 6,500 hectares of the reserve were left for the use of the villagers. At least 37 villages depend on the Ndiaël reserve. The residents denounced the total lack of communication from the government and the company. They learnt about the installation of the project the day the machines began clearing their land. Until then, this reserve was exclusively a grazing area, but intensive exploitation would harm hydraulic and forest resources. On April 12, 2012 the newly elected President, Macky Sall, published a decree that cancelled the two decrees of March 20, 2012. On August 9, a delegation from Ndiaël was invited to Dakar to negotiate with the representatives of Senhuile. Yet three days before, on August 6, the President had already canceled his own decree of April 12 and thus confirmed the granting of the 20,000 hectares of the old reserve to Senhuile S.A., without consultation or communication addressed to the populations concerned. On August 9, the agribusiness promised the Ndiaël delegation not to use more than 10,000 hectares but the company was authorized to occupy the 20,000 hectares. The villages that depend on the resources and grazing areas of the Ndiaël have gathered within the Collectif de Ndiaël. The collective drafted a Memorandum and Points of Negotiation for the Affected Villages Collective by the Italian Senhuile-Senethanol Society, which was publicized by numerous international NGOs (Grain, Re: Common), and national (Enda Pronat). The Memorandum requested to repeal the decree of 6 August and demanded to carry on direct negotiations between the promoters of the project and the collective. Women have been involved in the mobilization from the beginning. They benefit the most from the pastoral activity because they look after the herds (cows, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys) and produce milk for home consumption and local markets. In 2016, a group of women took back a land by planting watermelon. National NGOs and networks such as Enda Pronat, the National Council for Rural Cooperation and Cooperation and the CRAFS Collective (for national land reform) work together to support affected communities, raise awareness and establish relay points with the press national. Promising jobs for local communities, less than 100 people work for Senhuile S.A. in 2016. The many hectares allocated to Senhuile S.A. have never been fully exploited, while the deforestation of the old reserve has already occurred. Currently, the company cultivates only 1,400 hectares for the production of rice, maize and peanut (source: Enda Pronat). The tension is high with farm workers who have demonstrated several times during the year 2017 to claim their salaries. In 2017, President Maky Sall has promised to resume 10,000 hectares out of 20,000. But this promise has still not taken place. 

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Basic Data
NameAgro-business for biofuels in the Ndiaël Reserve, by Senhuile-Senethanol S.A., Senegal
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Agro-fuels and biomass energy plants
Specific CommoditiesWater
Fruits and Vegetables
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsEn Français ci-dessous ------------------ Senhuile S.A's intentions in Northern Senegal were to produce agro-fuels for the European automotive market. Some sources mention the intention to produce sunflower oil, others of sweet potato. Finally, the production of agro-fuels will be doomed to failure. Today Senhuile S.A. produces for the local market, in direct and advantageous competition against local producers. The property of Senhuile S.A. is opaque. According to the investigations conducted by GRAIN and Re: Common, Senhuile S.A. is a joint venture initially owned by Tampieri Financial Group SA (up to 51%) and by Senethanol SA, based in Dakar (49%). Senethanol S.A. is controlled by ABE Int. LLC (75%) and a Senegalese investor, Gora Seck (25%). Benjamin Dummai was the director of Senhuile S.A. On May 16, 2014, he was arrested by the Senegalese police and brought to court for embezzlement (1). He was then removed from his managerial position. Changes within the administration have not improved relations with communities. In 2015, despite difficulties in harvesting and drastic staff cuts, the capital of Senhuile SA rose from 10 million to 3 billion CFA francs (from around 15,000 euros to 4.5 million euros). The company is now 82% owned by the Italian group Tampieri Financial Group SpA, 17.85% by Gora Seck and 0.15% by Senethanol (2). In 2016, another scandal erupts. Senhuile illegally resold, without a customs declaration, equipment that the company had been able to import into Senegal with tax exemption(3).

---------- En Français --------------- Les intentions de Senhuile S.A dans le nord du Sénégal étaient de produire des agro-carburants pour le marché automobile européen. Certaines sources mentionnent la production d’huile de tournesol, d’autres de patate douce. Finalement la production d’agro-carburants sera vouée à l’échec. Aujourd’hui Senhuile S.A. produit pour le marché local, en concurrence directe et avantageuse face aux producteurs locaux. La propriété de Senhuile S.A. est opaque. D’après les investigations menées par GRAIN et Re:Common, Senhuile S.A. est une coentreprise initialement détenue par Tampieri Financial Group S.A. (à hauteur de 51%) et par Senethanol SA, basée à Dakar (à hauteur de 49%). Senethanol S.A. est contrôlée par ABE Int. LLC (à hauteur de 75 %) et par un investisseur sénégalais, Gora Seck (à hauteur de 25 %). Benjamin Dummai était le directeur de Senhuile S.A. Le 16 mai 2014, il est arrêté par la police sénégalaise et déféré devant le parquet pour détournement de fonds (1). Il a alors été démis de son poste. Les changements au sein de l’administration n’ont pas amélioré les relations avec les communautés. En 2015, et ce malgré des difficultés dans les récoltes et des coupes drastiques de personnel, le capital de Senhuile S.A. est passé de 10 millions à 3 milliards de francs CFA (d’environ 15 000 euros à 4,5 millions d’euros). L’entreprise est désormais détenue à 82% par le groupe italien Tampieri Financial Group SpA, à 17,85% par Gora Seck et à 0,15% par Senethanol (2). En 2016 éclate un autre scandale. Senhuile a illégalement revendu sans déclaration de douane des équipements que l’entreprise avait pu importer au Sénégal avec exonération fiscale (3).
Project Area (in hectares)20,000
Level of Investment (in USD)175,000,000.00
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population10.000
Start Date2011
Company Names or State EnterprisesAgro Bioethanol Int LLC (ABE Int LLC ) from United States of America - Owns 75% of Senéthanol S.A.
Senhuile S.A. from Senegal
Tampieri Financial Group S.A. from Italy - Owns 51% of Senhuile-Senethanol S.A.
Senethanol S.A. from Senegal - Owns 49% of Senhuile-Senethanol S.A.
Relevant government actorsMinistry of Agriculture, Governor of St Louis region
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersEnda Pronat , CICODEV, -, CNCR -, Le Collectif de Ndiaël, Bidew Bou Bess (Senegalese rap group), National Council for Rural Cooperation, GRAIN, ActionAid Senegal, Oakland Institute
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
International ejos
Local ejos
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationCommunity-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Other6,000 ha déchiffrés par l'entreprise en 2014
Health ImpactsPotential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Specific impacts on women, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Otherretards dans le paiement des salaires des ouvriers agricoles
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
New legislation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Development of AlternativesTravail du CRAFS, société civile réunie dans le cadre du travail concernant la réforme foncière du pays:

-Sécuriser les terres communales (du domaine national), afin de prévenir de futurs accaparements de terres pour des raisons 'd'intérêt national' (tel que défini par la loi du domaine national de 1964, qui permet à l'Etat d'octroyer les terres communales à des investisseurs privés sans consultation préalable).

-S'engager dans un meilleur accès au foncier pour les femmes.

D'après Enda Pronat: renforcer la sécurité alimentaire en privilégiant l'agriculture familiale.

Rendre les terres accaparées dans le Ndiaël aux communautés.
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.Most of the lands of Ndiaël remain under Senhuile S.A. control. The people continue fighting to get their lands back for the livestock and subsistence cultivation. The case represents a high moment of raising awareness at the national level (and also international) of the massive land-grab issue at the expense of rural communities.

------- En Français ------- Les terres du Ndiaël sont toujours sous le controle de Senhuile S.A. Les villageois continue à lutter pour reprendre leurs terres. Le cas de Senhuile représente un moment majeure qui a permis de sensibiliser au niveau national (et international) sur l'accaparement massif des terres qui se fait au détriment des populations locales.
Sources and Materials

Loi du domaine national, 1964
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Loi de décentralisation, 1996
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(2) Au Sénégal, l'accaparement des terres est sur le point d'imploser, Rapport de Re:Common, Juillet 2015
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Qui est derrière Senhuile-Senéthanol, Rapport Grain, CRAFS, Novembre 2013
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Oakland Institute, Surrendering Our Future: Senhuile-Senéthanol Plantation Destroys Local Communities and Jeopardizes Environment, February 2014
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ActionAid, The Snehuile-Senthanol investment in Ndiaël, Senegal, No land, no future, A community’s struggle to reclaim their land, October 2014
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Who is behind Senhuile Senethanol, Grain, CRAFS Report, November 2013
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Sénégal: Un rapport accuse Senhuile de s'accaparer des terres des paysans pour une exploitation agro-industrielle; l'entreprise répond, Business & Human Rights Research Center
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(1) Visé par deux dossiers judiciaires : Benjamin Dummai, ex Dg de Senhuile, en eaux troubles, 16/04/2015
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Senegal Land Grab on the Verge of Implosion, Grain, 24/07/2015
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Sen Huile licencie plus de 80 employés ! 11/02/2015
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Page on Senhuile by The Oakland Institute
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African Renewable Energy Gains Attention, Worldwatch Institute
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Agricultural policy: Senegal’s biofuel plans highlight the issues of food crop impact, 01/12/2010
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Senhuile et populations de Gnith: les démons de la dénonciation resurgissent, Ndarinfo, 2/08/2016
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Sénégal : Qui est derrière Senhuile-Senethanol ? 22/01/2014
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(3) La Douane sévit contre Senhuile SA : materiel saisi, compte bancaire sous sequestre, Seneweb, 01/11/2016
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Farmlandgrab, Senhuile-Senethanol Articles
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Les limites de la compensation en question, 21/12/215
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Researchers help draft Senegalese biofuel law, 07/03/2012
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Sen-Ethanol, le projet agricole qui rend les Sénégalais fous de rage Au Sénégal, un projet agricole déchaîne les passions, entre insécurité alimentaire, souveraineté agricole et accaparement de terres. 28/01/2013
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Biofuels boost land-grab conflict in Senegal, 28/10/2011
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Combat des femmes pour leurs droits à la terre : cas des femmes de Ndiael contre Senhuile, 07/03/217
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Sénégal: Biocarburant - Macky Sall demande à revoir l'offre de Sen-Ethanol, All Africa, 19/07/212
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Media Links

(4) Document de position du Cadre de Réflexion et d’Action sur le Foncier sur la réforme foncière au Sénégal
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Victimes de Ndiaël (Senhuile-Senéthanol), YouTube vIdeo
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Accaparement des terres au Sénégal, Mariam Sow, Enda Pronat, Senegal, 2015
[click to view]

Enda Pronat, YouTube Channel
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Reportage Sénéthanol-mars 2013, Video Youtube
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Other Documents

Demostration in Fanaye against Senhuile land-grabbing Source.
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The Ndiaël, in April 2010 Source.
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Meta Information
ContributorZahra Moloo
Last update24/02/2018