Traditional private grain trader storage

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As implied in the Introduction to this chapter, the requirements of private grain traders have tended to be neglected in favour of the development of storage facilities for government or quasi-government grain marketing organizations. Consequently, references to private trader storage facilities are scattered and almost inconsequential. This section is therefore brief and based almost entirely on the author's observations.

Most private grain traders never have more than a few tonnes of grain in store at any given time; their operating principle being to dispose of stocks as quickly as possible, thereby minimising losses associated with pest infestation and avoiding the extra expense of pest control. With few exceptions, therefore, their storage facilities are small (200 tonnes capacity or less) and absolutely basic in design. Typically consisting of nothing more than a single large room, with bare brick or mud plastered walls, an earth floor, a corrugated metal roof supported by many pillars, and poorly fitting swing doors; a grain store is often one of several traders' stores in a long building sharing a common roof.

The existence of many roof supports in such a primitive store makes it impossible to build large stacks of bagged grain free of obstructions (a necessary prerequisite for effective fumigation). However the traditional 'banco' store in Mali, with its flat mud roof supported by many pillars, has lent itself well to the 'whole store' fumigation technique using phosphine (Webley and Harris, 1979) (see Chapter 8).

In production areas of Somalia and Sudan some grain traders are known to hold stocks of grain in large underground pits ('baker' or 'matmura' respectively). When trading conditions are favourable these stocks are transferred to urban wholesale or retail stores not unlike those briefly described above.

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