FEATURE-Loans for storing crops help Niger's farmers absorb climate shocks
By Kieran Guilbert
MAGOU, Niger, May 16 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Surveying his village's stocks of rice, sesame, millet and other food in a storehouse piled high with bags, Amadou Hassane is satisfied - but still a little anxious about the oversupply of baobab leaves.
With the rainy season set to start soon in Niger, Hassane and his fellow farmers need buyers for their leaves before the rains come, driving the prices down as fresh leaves sprout and supply surges across the western region of Tillabery.
"Life is hard because it is difficult to know when the first rains will come," Hassane told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, holding a list of each farmer's contribution to the village's stockpile.
"But we are lucky to have this warrantage system in place, because it means we can sell when the price is good, rather than being forced to do so right away after harvest," he added.
Because of a lack of storage facilities, many farmers across the developing world have no choice but to sell their produce after harvest, usually at low prices because supplies are plentiful at that time.
Later in the year, they then need to buy food for their families - but during this "lean season", before the next harvest, prices for grain and other food are at their highest.
To add to their problems, in countries like Niger, in Africa's Sahel region, increasingly erratic weather patterns and unpredictable climate shocks - such as floods and droughts - are hitting harvests.
That has left many of the West Africa nation's 20 million people struggling to grow or afford enough food. Continued...