Moustapha, Senegalese returnee making important investments
This migrant story is included in Tandian, Chapter 28 of the volume
Moustapha is currently the mayor of Darou Salam commune, in Kaolack, Senegal. He migrated in 2005, at the age of 30. He first travelled to France to participate in the International Agricultural Fair. For that occasion, he had a 45-day visa. He was able to make the trip since he was the president of the local producers’ organization, but above all because he had produced a record 34 tons of seed in 2004. By the time he returned to Senegal, he had acquired a taste for migration. He applied for and was granted a six-month visa to return to Europe. On this second trip, he joined a friend in Lerida, Spain. Three days after his arrival, he found work in the fields. After four days of work he had earned 400€. He did the maths and decided to stick with that job and to resign from his civil service position with the Ministry for the New Partnership for Africa’s Development.
Moustapha stayed in Lerida for four years without a residence permit, which he obtained until 2009. Once, he returned to Senegal on vacation and he returned to Spain with one of his wives, his nephew and his son. From 2009 to 2014, he returned to Senegal every year for two months to rest. The main motivation to return to Senegal was the growing financial burden of supporting his family. Besides, he realized that all his children and nephews wanted to join him in Spain. In the end, after much hesitation, he returned to Senegal with his wife as a way of showing his children and nephews that they were not obliged to leave for Europe to succeed.
During his years in Spain, Moustapha invested. Twice he bought a car to sell fish – borrowing 3,000€ from the Crédit Mutuel – but the project did not work out as he had anticipated. His failure was discouraging. Later, he did some Opérations Tabaski (the Muslim “Feast of the Sacrifice” or “Feast of Sheep”), but his relatives stole the sheep. For those reasons, he decided to return to Senegal and manage his investments himself. In 2014, he started raising cattle and in 2016, small ruminants. He currently has 90 heads of cattle and employs four farmers to look after them. He has 60 hectares of land. With his wife, he wants to have a market garden, to grow off-season crops, raise poultry, and plant trees and shrubs. For his agricultural activities, he employs 13 farmers for five months and his family year-round. He has opened a money transfer office in Nioro.
He plans to continue investing in agriculture, because he loves the work and has the requisite know-how. He has submitted his plan for a market garden to Senegal’s Fonds de Garantie des Investissements Prioritaires (a guarantee fund for priority investments).
In Spain, he also learned how to stable and manage livestock, methods for treating certain animal diseases, and how to rapidly fatten cattle. He wants to have an impact on the food security of people in his area, growing vegetables for a more diversified diet and making cow’s milk available. He also plans to create jobs in the transformation and commercialization of milk.
His only regret is that the young people in the area do not follow his example and want to emigrate, As he was the first in the area to do so, when he sees young people leave, he feels that he is partly to blame. The positive side of migration is that it enabled him to acquire knowledge.