Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Ségou
|© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.|
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Trade in Cercle de Ségou was excellent, especially during the festival of Ramadan. One European merchant grossed over 500 francs/day. There was a problem, however, because African representatives of the European merchants were too lenient with credit to Dioula traders.
The kola trade to Côte d'Ivoire was altered slightly because some traders, instead of bringing kola back, took cash payments for their animals and brought the coins back.
The author noted that "... des cercles de l'ouest servant de canal aux articles Européens" (the western cercles were the source of European imported goods).
Locally, cotton cloth weaving suffered from a poor cotton harvest in 1904. Kolas still sold for 100 francs/1000, but desert salt was down to 25 francs/barre and sea salt was still 0.30 francs/kilogram.
A Syrian merchant arrived in Ségou. Dioula traders continued to prefer to buy their goods in Bamako and make sales trips throughout the villages of Cercle de Ségou. All of this put pressure on European merchants in Ségou, some of whom carried heavy credit loads for local African merchants.
Trade resumed after the rainy season with many more traders than ever before. Peanut cultivation finally got underway in response to increased vegetable oil prices in Europe and the reduction of railroad freight rates. Peanuts sold for 40 francs/ton in Ségou, transport to Koulikoro by boat cost 15 francs/ton, transportation by train from there to Kayes cost 25.25 francs/ton, and transportation from there to France by ship cost 65 francs/ton. The total of 145.25 francs (plus a bit more for handling, etc.) left a profit of 84 francs/ton aftern the peanuts sold for 240 francs/ton in France.
Small quantities of rubber (2 tons) were still collected from the Bani River region.
Trade in Cercle de Ségou increased a lot. 100 tons of marine salt arrived in the market where it sold for 0.35 francs/kilogram. Desert salt sold for 0.75 francs/kilogram. Local textiles - hats, mats, blankets and cloth bandes - sold in Bamako and Kayes.
There were two new European merchants in Ségou. COFCA (Compagnie Fran‡aise du Commerce Africain) opened comptoirs at Baraoueli and Boli. Duteil de la Rochère arrived at several locations, using African operators and regular inspections by Europeans.
The Compagnie Fran‡aise du Commerce Africain opened a comptoir in Ségou, directly by an African. Their headquarters was in Bamako.
The price of European salt rose, and that resulted in increased sales of Timbuktu salt. There were two European comptoirs at the Ségou market. Africans brought 200 kilograms of wax to Ségou to sell to European merchants.
European merchants moved huge quantities of millet, rice and other grains to Koulikoro. Two tons of wool were exported from Ségou and 15 tons from Macina using the diesel-powered riverboat (petrolier) "Marabout."
Trade was active in the Cercle de Ségou, especially since Africans needed to earn cash to pay their taxes. Cattle and salt were traded south while millet went towads Bamako.
The main export items from the Cercle de Ségou were millet and rice, which were sent to Koulikoro.
The Senegal River flood was late, so imported cloth and marine salt for trade did not arrive until September. Consequently, exports like rice and wool moved very slowly through the cercle in export trade. Millet made up 42,600 of the 52,220 francs worth of export goods.
Despite the low statistical totals (49,900 francs in imports and 45,420 francs in exports), the Commandant du Cercle de Ségou claimed that trade was on the increase in the fourth quarter of 1907, based on the number of patentes de Dioula.
There were three new European merchants in Ségou and one in Sansanding. African industry consisted mainly of pirogue building and black-smithing. A European cottonseed factory was under construction, and the Société Niger Soudan operated a chalk oven at Diombouroubougou.
|desert salt||26.35 francs/barre|
|sheep or goat||4 francs|
NOTE: The report also mentions that 35,900 kolas were imported at 203 francs/1000 and 588 barres of salt at 30 francs/barre. It is not clear how to reconcile these figures with the above prices.
The three European merchants in Ségou were Société Commerciale, COFCA and M. Taxil. They bought rice, millet, wool, karité and peanuts.
In addition to the three European merchants in Ségou, the Maison Bergeron had a comptoir at Sansanding that was run by an African.
A company of tirailleurs arrived in Ségou, boosting trade for the Société Commerciale. In revenge, COFCA refused to accept something (appears to be European pay chits) and liquidated their European stocks in order to pursue the grain trade. COFCA pulled out of Baraoueli as well. M. Taxil limited his purchases to grain as well.
The cowrie was the local money of preference. The French had thousands of centimes (French coins, 1/100th of a franc), but nobody wanted them.
Four new merchants reached Ségou: Buhan et Teisseire, Deves et Chaumet, Bergeron and a Oulaf merchant who worked for himself. Buhan et Teisseire opened a comptoir in Baraoueli, run by an African. Europeans bought grain, but stopped buying karité on orders from Europe.
|sea salt||0.90 francs/kilogram|
The biggest export item from the Cercle de Ségou was peanuts at 50-100 francs/ton. Only small amounts of millet (200 tons) were shipped. 200,000 kolas were imported at 60 francs/1000 and exported at 83.3 francs/1000.
Desert salt sold for 20 francs/barre and sea salt sold for 0.80 francs/kilogram. Kola sold for 100 francs/1000.
M. Carrie arrived from Europe to organize karité exports. He visited a lot of the Cercle de Ségou and created karité depots at Tamani and Kenenkou.
Kola sold for 100 francs/1000. Desert salt sold for 15 francs/barre and sea salt sold for 10 francs/sack.
NOTE: Until 1911, the commercial reports do not mention any trade with other French colonies. In 1912, they began to record a separate category for trade to other French colonies.)
Three new European merchants reached Ségou. M. Dutour represented Maurer, and Mm. Deslous and Tourneux worked on their own.
Large amounts of millet and peanuts went to Koulikoro in pirogues and chalands (canoes and barges). The Maison Carrie et Dabrigeon operated a steamship "Karité" on the river to haul karité. Peanuts sold for 80 francs/ton and animal skins sold for 1000 francs/ton.
M. Bouty represented the Maison Carrie et Dabrigeon at Ségou. There was no European trade because the river was too low.
Competition between Deves et Chaumet and Carrie et Dabrigeon raised the price of karité. Each company paid African agents good salaries to go out to villages to purchase karité. Everything they got was in the form of karité nuts, despite the higher prices offered by Europeans for processed karité. The processing work was too hard and Africans didn't want to do it.
The failure of the grain harvest pushed millet prices up to 180-200 francs/ton.