The Organization of a West African Grain Market

Mahir Saul

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study I reconsider some widespread views on African grain marketing by providing a description of Burkina Faso on the basis of extended field observations and interviews. The collection and distribution of grain are largely achieved by a network of agents working for major merchants and by a large number of independent smaller traders. The complex mechanisms involved reveal that competition is severely restricted both at village and national levels. Most traders operate with very small funds while most farmers have little withholding capacity. Despite the large number of actors involved interseasonal storage of market grain is concentrated. High urban grain prices do not benefit most producers because linkages are seasonal. Existing institutions such as Village Groups may benefit some farmers when they are properly funded. Their impact shows that greater access by farmers to national capital resources may improve marketing structures. 1987 American Anthropological Association

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-95
Number of pages22
JournalAmerican Anthropologist
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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