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Niger: Beating the unscrupulous traders

I’ve just met a Nigerien woman in the capital, Niamey, who is determined to challenge the unscrupulous traders who are partially behind the high prices of  millet – the staple here – and other grain which is playing an important part in the severe food crisis which is devastating this country.

Sick of not being able to afford the exorbitant prices in the city’s markets nor feed their families properly, Adama Issa and other members from her community in one of the poorest parts of Niamey have decided to play the traders at their own game.

After every harvest,  the traders go to the countryside to buy up any grain from Niger’s farmers, store it and charge what they think they can get away with. Generally that means adding a hefty profit.

If the harvest is not good – like last year when it almost totally failed – they travel to Burkino Faso and other nearby countries to buy cereals there instead.

But, now, Adama and a group of her neighbours are making the trip themselves, buying grain directly from the farmers, which they then store and sell at reasonable prices to members of their community.

Any profit that is made is then lent to people in the community for other projects. The women call themselves the Banque de Cereales and they say it’s transformed their lives and those of their children. They can now afford to feed their families properly. Indeed, all of her seven children seemed very healthy.

The traders, understandably, are not so happy. But for Adama, it’s one way to survive in Niger, the least developed country in the world.

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