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Monday, 29 May 2017

Loans for Storing Crops Help Niger's Farmers Absorb Climate Shocks

Lack of storage forces farmers to sell their harvest at low prices - but changing that can help them get ahead 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. But a rural credit scheme that lets farmers store their harvest and obtain loans against it - with the money paid back in the dry season when crop prices and sales income are higher - is boosting resilience to climate change, experts say. The warrantage system is part of a project launched in 2015, funded by the U.K. Department for International Development (DFID) and led by CARE International, to help farming communities in Niger access loans, and encourage them to diversify the crops and products they store.

Source: Allafrica