Senhuile-Senéthanol, an agribusiness company, has been setting up agro-industrial plantations in the Saint-Louis region of northwest Senegal since July 2010. Owned by a complex maze of companies and individuals with ties to numerous countries around the world, including Italy, United States, Brazil, and Panama, the company holds a lease for 20,000 hectares of land. From the very inception of the project, Senhuile-Senéthanol has faced stiff resistance from local populations.
First incorporated as Senéthanol, the company originally intended to develop intensive production of sweet potato for bioethanol in the Rural Community (CR) of Fanaye. When violent protests against the project led to two deaths and many wounded, former Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade decided to move the operation from Fanaye to the forest and wetland preserve of Ndiaël. In doing so, the president changed the classification of a natural protected area and overlooked the 40 rural villages that rely on this land for food and pasture. The company, which is now operating as Senhuile, has already cleared land and begun growing operations within the reserve.