Groundnut is the only cash crop in The Gambia. During the dry season, women are busy peeling the nuts under the shade of a mango tree.
Photo: S. Eibisch

15.06.2015

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During the 1970s, when severe droughts affected West African farmers, cereal banks became popular in the region. However, things quickly became very quiet again about this type of food security scheme, probably also because many of the cereal banks failed. Scientific surveys addressing the topic are scarce. A study in The Gambia in 2014 investigated how such cereal banks function and what the important variables for their success are.

Agriculture is the key sector and most important source of rural livelihoods in The Gambia. Generally, the length of the rainy season is becoming more variable. A distinct period in the agricultural calendar is the so-called ´hunger season´ when rain falls sporadically in the period from August to September. At this point domestic grain stores usually have run empty, hence food prices in the market multiply while farmers must begin the exhausting labour of preparing their fields for the upcoming season. Thus, the crops from the old harvest are eaten and the new crops are still about to grow. Farmers need to open up alternative income sources in order to be able to buy costly cereals at the market. Turning to non-farm work or eating cereals that were stored to serve as future seeds would endanger the next harvest.

In 2014, a qualitative geographic study was conducted for the West African Science Service Center for Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL).

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