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Ressources vivrières et choix alimentaires dans le bassin du lac Tchad

Christine Raimond
Éric Garine
Olivier Langlois


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1Igor de Garine: «Bush foods among the masa and the muzey of Northern Cameroon»

2The Masa and Muzey, who live in the flooded flatlands of the Logone river about 250 kilometres from N’Djaména, still benefit nutritionally from predation activities (hunting, fishing and gathering). This paper is centred on hunting, gathering and occasional individual fishing. Among the products obtained from hunting and gathering, we can list insects, frogs, reptiles, small fish and birds as well as mammals (rodents and insectivorous animais). Among the plant products there are about 80 species, which is similar to what is observed in other populations of the same ecological zone.

3A calendar and a figure give an idea of their use. Food products consumed in normal times, wild foods used during seasonal shortage periods, and wild foods utilised during hunger periods, will be classified from an operational viewpoint. Many of these food products appear today to be the stigma of a backward lifestyle.

4Considering the vulnerability of the economic domain, maintaining the use of these resources from the bush remains an important matter. These resources are available on the very spot where food shortages occur. They are often plentiful, their nutritional value is acceptable. It is therefore possible to conceive an educational programme aiming to improve their image and establishing a dialogue about their usefulness by demonstrating, for instance, their nutritional value, their cultural authenticity and their conformity to the contemporary neo-ecological tendencies.

5Keywords: Small animais — Cereals — Tubers — Shortage — Respectability.

6Eric Garine, Aboubakar Moussa, Christine Raimond, Edmond Dounias, Kouami Kokou: «Food uses of farmed parkland tree species (Duupa, Poli Mountains, Northern Cameroon)»

7Leaving trees on farms is a common practice for Duupa peasants of Northern Cameroon. Many selected species have food uses: edible fruits, and fresh leaves used as pot herbs for relishes, especially during the dry season.

8In 1991, the products of trees, combined with many greens intercropped in millet fields, contributed significantly to the diversity of the nutritional cystem. Important changes happened during the last ten years with the adoption of cotton as a commercial crop. This shift of the agrarian System is commonly viewed as leading to genetic erosion due to monocropping and the loss of folk knowledge of minor intercropped species. How did the Duupa parkland get through such a dramatic change?

9The data concerning the inventory of trees in cultivated fields of two duupa villages show that parkland remain in the agrarian landscape, and its products are still a complementary resource.

10Keywords: Farmed parkland — Agrosystem evolution — Food resources — North Cameroon.

11Paboung Dagou, Mahamat Ali Mustapha, Ngaressem Gotlob Mbaye, Passinring Kedeu, Marabé Ngar-Odjilo: «Fishing in Fitri and Léré lakes: fishing technology, products preservation and conservation issue»

12In subsaharian Africa and especially in land locked countries like Chad; fishing contributes to the survival of people living on the rivers and lake by providing them with extra food and financial incomes to meet up their needs. The inhabitants of Fitri lake in sahelian zone, those of Léré and Tréné in the sudanian zone, live on agriculture, breeding and fishing. They have recently been joined by two foreign groups coming from Bornu in Fitri islands and Hausa land to the shores of lake Léré. Those newcomers are fishermen by profession. They are holders of performing techniques of fishing whose products are not only sold in local markets but also exported to Nigeria and Cameroon. Today the demographic pressure on natural resources creates latent conflicts between indigenes and foreigners of the lakes on one hand and on the other hand methods aiming to regulate fishing for a rational exploitation of resources. Will the implication of the state toward the fishing service, that of the cooperating organizations such as Deutch GTZ and other national NGOs, succeed to regulate the fishing practice in a long lasting way and for the benefit of all?

13Keywords: Fitri Lake — Lere Lake — Fish stock — Fishing technology — Conservation goals — Chad.

14Joséphine Lesur, Olivier Langlois: «"Agro-hunters" of the nineteenth century in the Benoue upper valley: an analysis of archaeozoological remains from the Djaba Hossere site»

15Faunal remains coming from most archaeological sites in Northern Cameroon, either from Firki plain and Diamaré, show that livestock (cattle and goat/sheep) provides an important part of the meat diet of the ancient regional populations. Data recently collected at Djaba, as well as more ancient ones from Koyom (Chad), show that some sudanian communities during the 19th century obtained the major part of animais proteins, and perhaps of lipids, from fishing and hunting (mainly bovidae). In the sudanian part of Northern Cameroon many communities seem to have satisfied their needs in animais resources by such predatory activities. This could indicate a difference between past economies in sahelo-sudanian and sudanian parts of northern Cameroon.

16Keywords: Hunting — Upper Benue — Northern Cameroon — Sudanian savannas — Archaeozoology — Faunal remains — bovidae.

17Eric Garine: «The evolution of fat food products among the Duupa (Poli Mountains, Northern Cameroon)»

18Like many agrarian societies of northern Cameroon, the staple food of the Duupa is made out of cereals: they play the main role considering their contribution to the nutrional equilibrium, but also their symbolic and social value. However, cereals are not the only foods: other carbohydrates, mainly tubers, are used and a large number of ingredients are combined to prepare accompanying dishes. The relishes are the tasty part of the meal and they are prepared with a great diversity of products, including various sources of fat: the main subject discussed in this paper. The finest sauces for the Duupa, are the ones that contain some fat. It can be of vegetal or animal origin, including insects. A hierarchy between the meat of wild beasts is recognized: the fatest are the most valued, but it is the domesticated animais that are considered to contain the more fat. The Duupa make little use of their knowledge of wild gathered plants to get oleaginous species (shea butter tree is known but seldom used). Industrial oil (mainly from cotton seeds) are rarely used, and the main source for fat are cultivated oilseeds (sesame, Hyptis and groundnuts). While presenting the inventory of fat products known by the Duupa, we will discuss why they come mainly from the domesticated world as opposed to the wild domain.

19Keywords: Fat — Food symbolism — Duupa — Northern Cameroon — Agrarian civilisation — Food plant history.

20Paulette Roulon-Doko: «Sesame in the Gbaya country»

21Sesame plays an important part in the Gbaya culture. First of all, it is the plant which begins the crop cycle and for which each year the Gbaya cultivate a new field. It provides a food for which have been elaborated a lot of varied preparations requiring elaborated technics and which is appreciated as meat. Then sesame has a reccurent role within ritual life where it plays an inescapable part.

22Keywords: Sesame — Food — Ritual practises — Gbaya — CAR.

23Jean-Claude Muller: «Some truth about the Dii, so called "people of the yam" (Northern Cameroon)»

24This article will attempt to show the diversity and evolution of crops cultivated for both internai use and exportation among the Dii of Adamaoua. Emphasis will be put on yams which have attracted the attention of the neighbours of the Dii. Exportation of crops is attested since the first mention of the Dii in the literature, at the end of the nineteenth century, and it is still practised. However, the present situation is far more complicated than some simplistic opinions on the Dii would suggest.

25Keywords: Agriculture — Yams — Trade — Adamaoua — Dii.

26Judith de Wolf: «Enhancing food security through resettlement? The dynamics of crop choices in the Bénoué region, North Cameroon»

27Enhancing food security and, simultaneously, decreasing population pressure on land in Cameroon’s Far North province, were the two major aims of the Nord-Est Bénoué (NEB) project, which resulted in the resettlement of more than 80,000 people from the Far North in the Bénoué valley in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the NEB-project sought to stimulate the production of food crops such as maize and millets, by the late 1990s food security is still the overriding concern of farmers in the region. Many resettled farmers barely produce enough food to sustain themselves. Meanwhile, the vast majority of them has become involved in the cultivation of cotton, of which the production and marketing is organized through the parastatal Sodecoton (Société de développement du coton).

28This paper seeks to clarify the dilemma between cash crop and food crop production, elaborating how crop choices are structured by (1) the socio-institutional organization of cotton production and marketing, and, (2) the social organization of this emergent society of resettled farmers of different ethnic origin. It is shown that in order to cultivate maize - for many the preferred staple - farmers need to engage in cotton production. It is not, however, the capital demands of maize cultivation which makes food security dependent on cash-crop production, but rather, the specific way in which markets for cotton and maize inputs are (institutionally) organized. Despite different socio-cultural orientations in this society of migrants, farmers in the Bénoué region invariably view cotton production as the only way to enhance their food security.

29Keywords: Resettlement — Cash crop — Food crop — Food security — Northern Cameroon.

30Christine Raimond: «The diffusion of transplanted sorghum in Lake Chad Basin»

31By imposing by themselves the cultivation of counterseason sorghum along the Sudano-Sahelian region of the Lake Chad Basin, including places where it was not expected, the farmers showed their capacity to innovate and produce their own development. A large study carried out in Chad and Cameroon lead to the collection of 159 panicles. The similarities and homonymy helped to determinate 40 local varieties among 5 regional groups: the muskuwaari from Diamaré, the bayrere from southern Lake Chad, the aouk from the Salamat, the gagnan from Guéra and the tchangala from Fitri. The description of these varieties shows a great diversity, from a morphological point of view as well as for the taste. Many varieties among the most widespread produce very white flour, which is much appreciated. It explains the sudden interest in this sorghum and the development of a flourishing market. The spatial extension and the history of these varieties give the main axes of their diffusion. If the spatial expansion has been impressive in the past few decades, the diffusion of some varieties is now very slow between the various regions of production. Seasonal migrating farmers and occasional travellers, generally traders, spread transplanted sorghum but, surprisingly, only to west Nigeria, the diffusion remains in the hands of the farmers.

32Keywords: Transplanted sorghum — Crop diffusion — Self induced development.

33Nathalie Perrot, Sobda Gonne, Bertrand Mathie: «Biodiversity and food uses of muskuwaari sorghum in Northern Cameroon»

34The increased cultivation of transplanted sorghum (muskuwaari) in northern Cameroon has been observed over the last decades and it is now an important factor in the food security of farmers, in the same way that rainfed sorghum. Producers themselves have accompanied this spread, with the selection and adoption of new sorghum types, adapted to various environmental constraints. Muskuwaari main types inventory and characterisation show a large number of adapted varieties, chosen by producers according to soil, climatic constraints and/or according the importance of pests. Globally, conservation and enrichment of vegetal material are observed, even if some varieties are locally dominant. Gustative quality, market value, transformation ability and culinary uses vary with muskuwaari types and also orientate varietal choices. These results must be compared to similar studies in the lake Tchad basin in order to enhance agrobiodiversity of cultivated sorghums by promoting exchanges and diffusion of seeds between production areas.

35Keywords: Transplanted sorghum — Landraces — Food uses — Diamare - Cameroon.

36Anne Luxereau: «"Local produce" in Niger: identity and social change»

37Local agricultural produces, which profit from specific reknown, do exist in Africa, some for centuries, and they are numerous in Niger. The status of each of them is greatly diversified between those which may appear as "patrimonial" products and others that resuit for new economical opportunities. For long ignored by development policies, they are undergoing disparate growth but which are, for the most part, local, "informal" and innovative. They are all on sale and they take a part in the transformation of economical, productive Systems and some of them in a new definition of roles within society. Three cases illustrate this diversity.

38Keywords: Local and patrimonial products — Social change — Women — Niger.

39Henry Tourneux: «Culinary preparations among the Diamaré Fulani (Cameroon)»

40Milk forms the base of the traditional diet of the Fulani people. One would thus expect to find it dominant for the Fulani group of the Diamare for whom herding remains an important activity. However, examination of the lexicon of the Fulani language of this region reveals numerous unexpected names of dishes and ingredients. In fact, the Diamare Fulani during their long migration have learned to feed differently. Etymological study reveals, in many cases, in which region they acquired new dietary habits.

41Keywords: Foodstuffs — Cuisine — Lexicon — Borrowing — Fulani — Diamare — Cameroon.

42Agnès Gelbert: «The evolution of grinding tools in the Djaba community (Northern Cameroon) during the last two centuries (Archaeological and ethnoarchaeological studies)»

43The ethnoarchaeological studies carried out in Djaba (Benoue Basin) allowed the analysis of traditional grinding and millstoning tools used in the village. Two functional types have been determined: the condiment millstone and the cereal millstone. The general morphological study and the characteristics of the active part (macroscopic traces of wear) of these tools allowed the functional classification of intrinsic criteria. This typology was used as a basis for the identification of the grinding material of two old occupation of the Djaba community: the site of ex-Djaba, abandoned in the 1960’s and the site of Djaba Hossere, abandoned in the early 19th century. This study succeeded in a historic reconstruction underlining the elements that remained and those that evolved recently in grinding tools, giving evidence of recent technical innovations (the introduction of mechanical mill) and the evolution of eating habits.

44Keywords: Ethno-archaeology — Food technology — Grinding tools — Dii.

45Olivier Langlois: «Solid foods and liquid foods. An ethnoar-chaeological eye on ancien pottery of Diamaré (Northern Cameroon)»

46Ceramics from archaeological sites of Diamaré (Northern Cameroon) are very fragmented. Consequently, they rarely allow to specify their shapes by simple observation and, a fortiori, their uses. In the study area, to take up the story of cooking from archaeological ceramics we need to do an ethno-archaeological study adapted to remains of this kind. We studied present potteries, for which we know major utilizations, measuring a few morphological characteristics on potsherds: the thickness, the diameter of the mouth and the shape of the rim. On this basis, we built an analytical framework that we used to study our archaeological artefacts. Our main results indicate that since the middle of the first millennium AD a significant increase of shapes usually associated with cooking and serving cereal beers. We can then propose an increase of beer consumption since this time.

47Keywords: Pottery — Cereal beer — Cereal paste — Cooking — Archaeology — Ethno-archaeology — Northern Cameroon — Diamaré.

48Catherine Baroin: «Shame and food: foodways among the Tubu»

49The Tubu, muslim pastoralists of the central Sahara, have a very strict code of behaviour as regards taking food. The moral sense of shame is pervading not only in this respect, but throughout all of social life as well. The way to eat abides by muslim rules, but who eats with whom and in the presence of whom is yet another matter. Another set of rules applies there which is specific to the Tubu, and lies in accordance with the main principles of their social organisation. Far from trivial details, these rules deserve our attention as they may be used as a key to sociological analysis.

50Keywords: Tubu — Chad — Shame — Food — Social organisation.

51Edmond Bernus: «Tuaregs milk. Uses and symbols»

52Among the Tuaregs herders milk plays an important role: it nourishes, relieves thirst and ills. When the world was created, according to the myth, one camel fed all humanity; she was killed by the people. Milk is the main food as much for its symbolic value as for its nutritional quality. However, man must share the milk with the young animal and this sharing, that happens during the milking, is difficult to achieve in times of drought. In the evening, after milking, the milk bowl is passed from hand to hand and everyone takes a sip of the precious food. Akh is the generic label for all kinds of milk, and an adjective denotes if it’s fresh, sour, curdled or mixed with water. Camel milk is preferred for its taste, which depends on the quality of the pasture, and for the force it gives. Before winning, or upon the death of the suckling animal, herders use a set of techniques to insure that a sufficient quantity of milk is available for human consumption. Some of these techniques attest to a profound understanding of animal psychology. The milk of different animals species, and the production uses, and sub-products (curd, butter, cheese of each) show the importance of milk in a pastoral society. The importance of milk in the diet varies seasonally, being higher after the rains and lower during the dry hot season.

53Keywords: Milk — Uses — Symbols — Tuaregs — Sahara — Sahel.

54Jean Boutrais: «Milk and dairy products in the Adamaoua. Men Fulani milk drinkers and women Fulani milk sellers»

55As the Adamaoua area is specialized in cattle rearing, the dairy production is also supposed to be important. However, the economic and cultural significance of milk is not the same, according to the pastoral Systems. The opposition between the cattle Systems of the Settled Fulani and of the Nomadic Fulani is related to the management of the cattle and to the valorization of either meat or milk. Some examples of the uses of the milk by families show that the Settled Fulani drink their production while the Nomadic Fulani divide it between the family needs and the sales. However, milk selling is a difficult job for the Fulani women and it is declining. The end of the sales has economic consequences but it has also a cultural significance, especially from a religious point of view. The problem of milk is also acute for the shepherds in cattle ranching.

56Keywords: Milk — Milk selling — Women — Pastoral society — Fulani — Adamaoua — Cameroon.

57Guillaume Duteurtre, Koussou Mian Oudanang, Souleyman Elhadj N’Gaba: «"Milk bars" in N’Djaména (Tchad). Small business for promoting milk from the bush»

58The rapid growth of N’Djaména city (Chad) generates a important demand for dairy products. Local marketing Systems, providing the capital city with local milk, are dynamic and contribute to answer this growing demand, in addition to dairy imports. Two exhaustive census of "milk bars" conducted in 2000 and 2002 reveal that their number has doubled in the space of two years. This development relies on the sales of fresh farm milk and rayeb, a local fermented milk. Those products correspond to new urban consumption habits, i.e., the consumption of refreshing drinks in bars or in street restaurants. The success of these "milk bars" relies on the "typicality" of this product, as expressed by the signs "pure cow milk" (in French "lait pur de vache") hanging above 71% of the bars. A more detailed survey conducted with 45 milk retailers suggests that the emergence of these "milk bars" is largely due to the dynamism of milk collectors ("les quarantiers") who transport the milk on motorbikes and assist rural producers and city retailers in handling milk with care and sufficient hygiene. They also propose to "milk bars" new delivery contracts and thus contribute efficiently to the development of the local milk outlets. Improvement measures are suggested, such as hygiene training and quality incentives relying on the wellknown "lait pur de vache" quality sign.

59Keywords: Dairy product and chaine — Urban food — N’Djaména.

60Jean-Marie Essomba, Sandrine Dury, Mbonji Edjenguélé, Nicolas Bricas: «Dairy produces consumption in Ngaoundéré: the rising of MSE (micro and small enterprises)»

61For some years, population of the town of Ngaoundere like other towns in Cameroon have integrated in their feeding habits fermented dairy products from local micro and small enterprises (MSE). Field observations made by AGRO-PME, CIRAD-AMIS and the University of Yaounde I (2000) show a wide range of fermented milk products in the markets of this town, coming from different sources: industrial, cottage industry or produced by MSE. To be able to meet the demand MSE tend to modernise the nature of their products as well as their technology (packaging, means of production, distribution network...). This contributes to making dairy products no longer the privileged food of natives but equally of the populations that do not originate from north Cameroon. This present paper offers to explain firstly why MSE fermented products fit well into the markets of Ngaoundere, and secondly how and why the "northern" and "non-northern" populations integrate new products into their food habits.

62Keywords: Food consumption — Milk — Dairy products — Micro and small scale enterprises — Change in food habits.

63Walter E.A. van Beek: «Kapsiki beer dynamics»

64Beer brewing, selling and consumption is, as in many African societies, of great importance among the Kapsiki. Brewing is a complex process that has at least two major variations, leading to the "red" and the "white" variety. Both are clearly distinguished and have quite different functions. The red "male" beer contrasts with the white "female" brew in many ways: ritual application versus market orientation, male versus female interests and symbolic versus economic motives. The last decade have shown a shift in availability of beer for market production, in which women have been able to get access to a formerly male domain of beer preparation. Shifts in production recipes and shifts in ritual use of beer have resulted from this “gender change” in beer. The same holds, to some extent, for the blacksmith women, who have gained an - admittedly small - proportion of the beer market.

65Keywords: Sorghum beer — Ritual — Marketing — Gender — Kapsiki-Higi.

66Géraud Magrin, Koumaro Mbayhoudel: «Blacklisting beer. Issues and dynamics of alcohol consumption in Southern Chad»

67Alcohol consumption in Chad is very criticized. Its constant increase during the last century, and more precisely during the last two decades, is considered either as a cause or as a resuit of the crisis that affects the country, particularly its southern non muslim areas, where the major part of traditional alcoholic beverages is produced. A real social disaster for many, alcohol consumption would be a major factor of food insecurity, as well as a main constraint in economical accumulation and development.

68Based on in-depth investigations in some towns and rural weekly markets of Southern Chad during the last five years, this paper would like to go beyond ideological speeches, where national geopolitical oppositions are readable. To study some recent changes that occurred in the consumption of traditional alcoholic beverages, such as the places and the nature of the consumed products, illuminating the data at the light of global changes which are in process in this region submitted to a growing print of urbanization, with a background of social, migratory and geopolitical tensions.

69Keywords: Alcoholic beverages — Food security — North/ South divide — Urbanization — Chad.

70Christian Seignobos: «Thirty years of sorghum beer in Maroua»

71Between 1972 and 2002 the technology of sorghum beer production in Maroua did not change and the quantities brewed changed very little. Sorghum beer still plays a part in the economy of survival in the city but today it has many other functions as well. In the «saré à bilbil» one does not only come to drink, but also to eat and talk and debate. Despite the moralizing discourses against them, beer bars are becoming true havens of free speech where a new form of citizenship is being constructed.

72Keywords: Sorghum beer — Bars — Bar tenders — Citizenship — Maroua — Northern Cameroon.

73Suzanne Ruelland: «Food crop production in Chadian Tupuri taies»

74In Tupuri tales, food crop production is a frame often associated with interpersonal conflicts. Food crop production introduces competition and jealousy among human beings as well as their fight for survival against nature and hostile supernatural forces. The analysis of these food crop productions which appear in the taies leads us to account for the different agricultural techniques which are used nowadays and helps us to understand, through the conflicts referred to in the taies, these moral values which are put forward as models for the children for whom these tales are intended. This article shows the control which taies can exert on Tupuri social structure. It also contrives to put forward beliefs concerning cosmological structure.

75Keywords: Oral literature — Food production — Cereals — Social conflicts — Cosmogony.

76Michel Tchotsoua, Paul Djeumene: «Changing food habits in the urban setting. The evolution of beef prices in Northern Cameroon from 1993 to 2002»

77With 3000000 heads of cattle, about 51% of national livestock, the Northern part of Cameroon is one of the most important cattle raising area of the country. But, from 1993 to 2002, the price for a kilogram of beef faced a dramatic rise on the urban markets of this region. In this paper, the authors explain reasons for this rise and highlight its consequences on the food habits of the urban populations of Maroua, Garoua and Ngaoundéré. In order to achieve these objectives, they proceeded by investigations with 300 actors (121 breeders, 119 consumers and 60 butchers) proportionally distributed according to the population of the three regions. They also proceeded to the survey of grazing and pastoral methods.

78Keywords: Cattle — Beef — Overgrazing — Food habits — Surrogate products — Northern-Cameroon.

79Olivier lyebi-Mandjek: «The evolution of commercial flux in Maroua (1980-1994)»

80As a platform for the collection and redistribution of agricultural and industrial products, Maroua represents an ancient regional economic town. What effects can diversified food habits, induced by intense migration, have on the traditional trade circuits into the town, and the organization of the local trade in foodstuffs? The study is based on fieldwork carried out in 1984 in the two principal local markets of the town, where the quantities of selected products (fish, kola nuts, millet and sorghum, fuel, garden products and tubers) were estimated, their prices, origins and destinations noted. Analyses of food supplies distinguish local flows of cereals, fruits and onions, whose proximity to the town defines a large territory where inhabitants produce, and sell part of the products. The growing importance of the national flows as a resuit of improved communication lines and the first devaluation of the Naira concerns essentially food crops, while complementary foods (fish, kola nuts, salt and natron) follow the traditional East/West flow, which do not seem to have evolved since the 19th century. Forty three percent of the products commercialized in Maroua are thus exported to nearby secondary commercial centres. These are principally fruits and market gardening products. A very small proportion is transformed on the spot and exported to provinces of the south. Between 1983 and 1994 the opening up of the town has brought about competition with lower prices for food products, and the development of secondary commercial centres. While illustrating the disorganization of circuits at national level, this study shows the importance of the regional economic role of Maroua and the axis of commercialization between the Bornou and the flood plains of the Logone, and the decline of Maroua during this period.

81Keywords: Town — Traditional trade circuit — National trade circuit — Devaluation of the Naira — Maroua.

82Jean-Charles Clanet: «Droughts, aid and food changes in Nigero-Chadian Sahel»

83The Nigero-Chadian Sahel probably has the most varied food resources of tropical Africa. If the peoples with a long lasting tradition in the area take a remarkable advantage of it, and build a renowned culinary tradition, the stockbreeders on the other hand only consume hardly processed cereals with dairy products. While confronted with the various climatic crises, Sahelian pastoralists hardly modified their food habits even when they were obliged to live on gifts of food brought by international organisations. None of the new food they discovered then entered their eating habits, appearing hastened to banish them of their daily habits. On the other hand, the mixing of populations brought about by the conflicts made many food taboos to disappear, and brought to the knowledge of everyone some regional specialties. In parallel, sweet and fizzy beverages have spread, just like the habit for wealthy people to offer meals comprising various, distinctive of social classes.

84Keywords: Food choices — Food resources — Drought — Conflicts — Pastoral societies — Peasant societies — Central Africa — Sahel.

85Claude Arditi: «State Intervention in the cereal trade (Chad)»

86The "Office National des Céréales" was created in 1978 in order to regulate staple food trade because local traders were supposed to get high profits from this activity. The ONC had to buy every year a certain amount of cereals in rural zones and to carry it and sell it in the principal cities at low prices to achieve its goals of stabilization of the market. The Office failed completely in its duties by lack of knowledge of the organization of the local cereals market (production areas, location of markets, traders, prices etc.). The managers of the Office, chosen by corrupted politicians, allowed civil servants and soldiers to buy on credit large quantities of cereals, which they sold with big profits because they never paid back their debts to the Office. Consequently they harmed the activities of traditional food traders who, for a long time, have been able to feed the cities and the herders much better than any state structure.

87Keywords: Cereals — Traders — State — Food security.

88André Teyssier, Géraud Magrin, Guillaume Duteurtre: «Shall we burn community granaries? Thinkings for food security policy in the soudano-sahelian zone»

89A great part of the rural population of the lake Chad basin suffers from periodic food crises. These crises generally arise just before the harvest season and resuit in sudden price increase on local markets, generating death and food insecurity that impairs the whole development process. Because of lack of reliable database on those dramatic events, discussions on food security strategies are often based on feelings rather than on scientific analyses. However, peasants do not stay inactive in front of such crises; they adopt different strategies to anticipate food scarcity and to adapt to food shortages, otherwise they would be obliged to move towards cities or away from risky lands. Government services also act in favour of food security through National Food Security Stocks and Food Aid Programs. Since the severe crises that took place in the 70s and 80s, public action has often been completed by NGOs who tend to promote "community grain storage" or "cereal banks" at a local level to avoid food crises. These "cereal banks" are promoted by a great diversity of institutions and have gone through fewer successes than failures. The weak performances of these local stocking Systems more generally question the efficiency of market regulation initiatives managed by producers. A comparative analysis of village-scale grain storage operations in the South of Chad and in Northern Cameroon suggests that the management structure of those "cereal banks" deeply affects their effectiveness. This comparison rises some questions concerning regional food security policies: Should we promote local cereal banks and encourage partial market control by producers? Should we rather facilitate traders’ actions in order to promote exchanges from surplus areas to deficit areas? At which conditions markets may link food supply to local demand of individual households in the Lake Chad basin? Those questions should be discussed in the context of socio-economic information Systems («Observatoires») in light of reliable prices data and actors’ strategies. Those Systems could also play a key role by encouraging "get-togethers" and discussion meetings between traders, producers organisations and other stakeholders in order to facilitate the management of food crises in the region.

90Keywords: Food security — Agricultural policy — Peasant organization — Cereals — Cameroon — Tchad.

© IRD Éditions, 2005

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