anm document

"Rapports Commerciales du Cercle de Mopti" (1914-1919)
in ANM 1 Q 71 fonds anciens

© 1999 by Jim Jones, Ph.D.

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"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (1st quarter, 1914)

Due to the failed harvest, the Cercle of Mopti, normally a grain exporter, had to import millet and rice from Ségou and San. Millet prices were up to 350 francs/ton. Even Simon's rice factory stopped working for lack of raw material.

The European merchants made up some of their losses from the absence of export trade by selling grains to the local people for food and seed at inflated prices. Africans were forced to buy their food in the markets and to sacrifice their cattle, so the trade in animal skins increased.

There were all the usual problems with French coins. Africans complained that Dioula speculators bought French francs for 3,500-4,000 cowries, but sold them for as much as 5,000 cowries.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1914)

Millet reached 600 francs per ton. The Societe Commerciale sold 800 tons of millet out of their warehouse and made a huge profit, as did the other Europeans. The animal skin trade tripled and more than a ton of skins passed through the Mopti market every day. Timbuktu salt still sold well, despite the competition from the cheaper Rumanian salt.

Of the two European merchant houses in Mopti, Maison J. Danel distributed goods over the widest area throughout the region.

The report's statistics are based on contracts for transportation made between pirogue operators and African merchants. They do not include anything transported on European company barges or anything from the Dioula trade.

200,000 francs were sent to Koulouba for exchange, of which 170,000 were in the form of English gold. Dioula traders exchanged a total of 300,000 francs in English gold. There was an estimated 1 million francs cash in circulation.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (3rd quarter, 1914)

The war forced European merchants to close up their shops when their employees were drafted, although eventually they returned. In the meantime, without the Europeans, the local market shrank and never did get off to a good start. However, since this was also normal at the end of the hivernage (rainy season), it was difficult to identify causes.

Egret hunters numbered only 59, down from 211 a year ago. This was because the European commercial houses hired fewer hunters for fear that the war would disrupt the European market for feathers.

Skin prices dropped from 1,200 to 400 francs/ton. Wool and salt prices were stable. There was no kola at all in the market statistics.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (4th quarter, 1914)

The economy revived a bit by the end of 1914. Mossi people came to Mopti to sell hides. However, rice and millet were still in short supply because after last year's shortages, Africans were holding onto their produce instead of selling it to Europeans.

The normal trading process had Africans selling their skins, grains and wool to European commercial houses for coins, then using those coins immediately to buy salt and cloth. Trade between Africans largely involved dried fish which was transported to Bandiagara, Mossi and the Gold Coast by Dioula traders.

Animal prices were high due to an epidemic of epizooties that had killed off a lot of animals. Consequently, sales are slow. 1,245 cows were exported to the Gold Coast.

Long distance trade by Peuls, Moors and Hausas was facilitated by the action of the Banque Anglais de Coumassi (English Bank of Kumasi, Gold Coast), which issued more coins. The 1-franc and 40-centime coins were preferred by Africans.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (1st quarter, 1915)

Beginning in 1915, the commercial reports became much more superficial. There were no more statistics on prices or exports.

The author was a a new administrator. He explained the lack of statistics on the reduction in French staffing levels. As a result, the "precepteurs des marchés" (literally "market tutors") were the only people in a position to obtain useful statistical information on commerce throughout the cercle, even though they were illiterate. The French administrator had to rely on contracts between African merchants and transporters.

European business was in fair shape even considering the war. European commercial houses managed to ship millet to Timbuktu, and a large quantity of rice to Koulikoro.

The African share of the market in Mopti was large and the other markets in the Cercle were doing well. However, a shortage of cash in the Gold Coast reduced trade to the south. Cowries were exchanged at 800/franc and were used for small purchases, but their circulation caused no problems.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1915)

African commerce was strong. Market fees brought in 1,818 francs during the quarter (NOTE: not clear if this was the Mopti market alone or the entire cercle). People from Bandiagara and Mossi traded mats, honey and leather goods, and returned with salt. Moors brought their herds from Sahel and Sokolo. The Tuareg brought their herds from Goundam as well, but the French administrator considered them to be a problem rather than an asset because they were thieves.

Trade by the European commercial houses boomed. Two riverboats, the "Bonnier" and the "Moll?" (illegible), left towing barges filled with hides and wool. The Syrians were doing well also, and the African market was full of goods and people.

Cowries still traded at 800/franc and were popular among Africans.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (3rd quarter, 1915)

The European commercial houses began to receive trade goods again when the river levels rose. All other economic indicators are good. The Cercle sent 700,000 francs to Koulouba, mostly in 5-franc pieces to be taken out of circulation.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (4th quarter, 1915)

NOTE: This is the first typewritten report in the series.

Activity in the Mopti market dropped because of attempts to control yellow fever. Pirogue operators who carried market women turned back rather than face the guards posted to control the spread of the disease. Conscription also reduced the number of Mossi and "cadets" at the market, which was held on Thursday's in Mopti.

This report explained the "carte de circulation" as a sort of travel permit. It also says that many traders circulated without the correct papers, but the French were powerless to stop it.

A "Sgt. de l'Intendance" managed to buy 150 tons of rice over a 45-day period for an average price of 150 francs/ton. The European commercial houses began to purchase wool and rice again. There were still the usual problems with old coins, and cowries still circulated freely.

"Rapport Commercial du Cercle de Mopti" (1st quarter, 1916)

Despite local political problems "non loin d'ici" (refers to Hombouri and Bandiagara), the Mopti market is still doing well. European traders collaborated to control millet and rice prices. For example, M. Bailly agreed verbally to sell millet to the Cercle administration "aux rationaires" but backed out suddenly. Then M. Lorme of the Maison Chichignond agreed to sell millet, but for 400 francs/ton.

African trade in rice was damaged by the disappearance of 150 tons of rice that was requisitioned for the garrison at Kati, and millet requistioned for Goundam. In addition, many Afrian recruits passed through Mopti, but were unable to afford the elevated grain prices. On the other hand, they bought a lot from local potters and shoemakers.

M. Oger returned to his business in Mopti and lodged a complaint with the administration concerning their refusal to accept old 5-franc coins. The complaint argued that the decision by the Lt. Governor in Koulouba (to issue 5-franc bills instead of new coins) was a mistake because paper money would deteriorate even faster than metal would.

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1916)

This is a short, vague report that says little. M. Simon exports rice as far as Senegal.

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (3rd quarter, 1916)

In the absence of more precise figures, the administrator cited commecial and postal receipts to show how trade had expanded in the previous year. Those combined receipts totalled 453,000 francs, nearly 100,000 francs more than the previous year, despite the fact that some merchants were mobilized for the war. M. Simon's rice factory shut down when his employees were drafted.

Skins, wool and grains were still the main export products. Wool was up to 1,300 francs per ton. The Maison Danel and the Société Commerciale du Soudan Fran‡ais were the main sources of European goods in Mopti. Africans traded animals exclusively. Their trade boomed because the Dioula traders came to Mopti in search of animals, in order to avoid the areas that were in revolt.

All French coins were readily accepted. English sterling circulated as well, thanks to Dioula trade activity in the Gold Coast.

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (4th quarter, 1916)

Administration receipts were down to 375,000 francs (from 453,000 in the previous quarter) because local merchants were hoarding their cash to buy skins, wool and grain. Wool was up to 1,500 francs/ton. Danel and the Société Commerciale both stock European food, household items and clothing. There was still roughly 280,000 francs worth of English Sterling in circulation.

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (1st quarter, 1917)

Postal receipts were up to 421,642 francs compared to 260,152 francs for the 1st quarter of 1916. This figure had increased over 295,000 since previous quarter. The figure was so high because local traders did all of their buying and selling during the first quarter of the year and then sent their profits back to Bamako by post.

By early 1917, Mopti was the main supply center for European goods in the Niger Bend. Among other things, wine and flour were available.

2,500 cows were exported to the Gold Coast. Rice was up to 180-200 francs per ton. There was a shortage of coins despite the fact that roughly 100,000 francs in 1-franc and 2-franc coins were used to purchase produce in November. This was due to hoarding by Africans.

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1917)

Commercial receipts totaled 128,000 francs, compared to 184,000 francs in the second quarter of 1916. Postal receipts were up to 150,000 francs from about 50,000 a year earlier. European traders benefitted from rising commodity prices in Europe without raising the prices they offered locally. As a result, they made huge profits. M. Simon's factory was husking about 5 tons of rice every day with his new machine.

"Mercuriales des principales denrées. Products indigènes" (2nd quarter, 1917)

This is a list of market prices. All prices are in francs per ton unless otherwise noted

Item Price
millet 100
rice 100
husked rice 270
peanuts 80
wool 1250-1350
kolas 100-150/1,000
sheepskin 900
goatskin 2250

"Bulletin Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (3rd quarter, 1917)

NOTE: A Bulletin Commericale is shorter than a Rapport Commerciale. It has only one page instead of 4, and includes a Bulletin Agricole on the reverse side.)

Commercial receipts climbed slightly to 88,937 francs from 88,619 francs in the third quarter of 1916. However, despite this apparent stagnation, trade is actually booming. The total commercial and postal receipts for 1917 (thru the third quarter) is 1,399,839 francs, opposed to 1,167,525 for 1916 (NOTE: It is not clear if this refers to three quarters or all year). Africans were encouraged to prepare skins better for trade and to shear their sheep less often in order to get longer, finer wool.

Millet sold for 65 francs/ton and rice sold for 280-300 francs/ton.

"Bulletin Agricole" (3rd quarter, 1917)

The hivernage (rainy season) was extremely short this year because the rains came late and stopped early. As a result, even though the area of rice cultivation was double what it had been in 1916, the harvest was about the same. This was also the second year that ricin (castor oil plant) was grown in the Mopti area.

"Bulletin Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (4th quarter, 1917)

Syrians consistently offered higher prices to Africans for their produce, so Europeans were forced to follow suit. Europeans offered 250 francs per ton for unprocessed rice, but little was available because the Africans prefered to husk it and obtain a higher price. Nevertheless, Simon's rice husking factory functions only intermittently.

The recent increase in personal taxes appeared to make Africans hoard their francs, so they didn't spend it at the French commercial houses and their trade was reduced.

Wool sold for 1,250 francs/ton, goatskin sold for 2,250 francs/ton, and cowskin sold for 1,150 francs/ton.

"Bulletin Agricole" (4th quarter, 1917)

European merchants Mourot and Danel, plus the French administration, distributed castor oil seed to Africans. The vegetable garden for the Poste de Mopti was worked by a prisoner under the command of M. Sicard. It produced vegetables for the French administration staff.

"Renseignement sur les Européens ou assimilés établis ou venant s'établir dans le cercle ou le poste" (4th quarter, 1917)

There were no new Europeans in the Cercle of Mopti, but Pelofi and Lestonnat, both merchants from Bamako, planned to open comptoirs in Mopti in 1918. Several Syrians and one Greek joined the staffs of the Syrians traders, especially the Maison Attya Frères, one of the largest.

The African merchant, Gatta Ba, looked for a site for a comptoir by operated Buhan & Teisseire, but Mopti was running out of room for expansion. A Syrian's stall rented for 200-300 francs/month and a number of Europeans were reaping scandalous profits.

"Statistiques Commerciales" (1st quarter, 1918)

This report was signed on March 31, 1918 by Casanova

List of prices in francs/ton unless otherwise noted:

Item Price
Rice 250-410
salt 35 francs/barre
salt (in sacks) 15 francs/sack
salt (plaques) 20 francs/plaque
kola 100/1,000
peanuts 80
millet 100
wool 2,000
cotton 600
cowskin 1,500
sheepskin 1150
cow 100 francs/piece
sheep 5 francs/piece

"Rapport Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1918

Item Price (francs/ton unless
otherwise noted
rice 470
millet 150
wool 2250
cotton 600
cow 100 francs
sheep 5 francs
salt 35 francs/barre
salt (in sacks) 15 francs/sack
salt (plaques) 20 francs/plaque
kola 100/1,000

"Mercuriales des produits européens et indigènes" (3rd quarter, 1918)

Wine sold for 4 francs per liter. Spirits sold for 80.10 francs per liter. Dried vegetables sold for 6 francs per kilogram.

"Bulletin Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (3rd quarter, 1918")

A very short report: Business improved when paper money was put into circulation because Africans didn't like it and spent it to get rid of it.

"Bulletin Agricole" (2nd quarter, 1918)

M. Simon employed full-time African labor in his rice- husking factory.

Bulletin Commerciale du Cercle de Mopti" (2nd quarter, 1918)

The biggest markets in the Cercle of Mopti were:

"Renseignement sur les Européens ou assimilés établis ou venant s'établir dans le cercle ou le poste" (4th quarter, 1918)

The CFAO, Société des Anciens établissements Peyrissac, and Maison Rouchard all opened comptoirs in December 1918. CFAO used its Mopti comptoir as a base from which to reach Niafunké, Timbuktu, Mossi, Bandiagara and San. CFAO planned to build a fleet for river shipping. Space in Mopti remained in short supply.

On the other side of this report, 11 chefs de canton were recommended for annual stipends of 180-360 francs per year for their loyal service to the French. Two received pensions of 180 francs, eight received pensions of 300 francs, and one received a pension of 360 francs.

"Movement Commercial Année 1918" (December 1918)

Salt was imported from Timbuktu, Rosso, Sine-Saloum, Cap Vert and "en plaques." There were also petrol imports (3,100 kilograms for 4,200 francs), hardware, copper bars, building materials and plenty of cloth.

"Bulletin Commerciale," 4th quarter, 1918)

M. Cadrouil opened a comptoir for the Société Macina-Niger. Buhan & Teisseire sent an African to open their comptoir, but his Syrian landlord kicked him out at the end of March. A European merchant opened a comptoir in Tenenkou.

"Bulletin Commerciale," 1st quarter, 1919)

List of prices in francs/ton unless otherwise noted:

Item Price
wool 2750-3,000
cotton 250-300
rice (Jan-Feb) 250-300
rice (Feb-Mar) 375-415
goatskin 2,500-3,000
sheepskin 750-1,000
cowskin 1,000-1300
rice (Djenné) 300

"Bulletin Commerciale" (2nd quarter, 1919)

List of prices in francs/ton unless otherwise noted:

Item Price
April May June
rice 400-425 175- 200 175-225
wool 2,000 1750 1900
cowskin 1400 1600 1750
goatskin 2,000-3,000
sheepskin 1,000
cotton (export) 300
cotton (between Africans) 500-600
gum 800 800 1,000

Dioula cattle merchants claimed that the Administrateur du Cercle de Niafunké refused them permission to take their cattle out of the Cercle to the Gold Coast. The Administrateur du Cercle de Mopti asked for more information on whether this was true and represented a new French policy.

The administrator of Mopti also mentioned the need to hire "precepteurs des marchés" for Konna, Matomo (Djenné) and Konignon (Mopti). Precepteurs earned 15 francs per month.

"Bulletin Agricole" (2nd quarter, 1919)

Many Africans complained that lions attacked their cattle. One man from the subdivision of Dia received 5 francs from the Administrator du Cercle for shooting a lion and bringing the skin to Mopti. The French offered "fusils gras" (some sort of musket) to cowherders for protection, but they refused, claiming they didn't know how to use them.