Demonstration of techniques for constructing different types of barns (Balanta, bo or madinka) for seed saving in West Africa: earth, straw or both

Just before the 3rd Fair for farmers’ seeds and biodiversity in Djimini in Senegal in November 2011, several peasant farmers built traditional seed granaries that exist in their villages, representative of several areas throughout the sub-region.

Three types of seed granaries were erected, Bo, Madinka, and Balante. The construction was planned to be a sort of training, during the week before the fair, and was truly a transfer of knowledge. Michel Dena came from Mali for the construction of Bo granary, Francisca Diouf arrived from Casamance (Senegal) to build Madinka, and Mr. Biaye from Velingara (Senegal), with members of his community, to erect Balante. They listed and explained the elements and the process of construction of their respective granaries to four apprentices, members of the ASPSP. Construction of Bo and Madinka granaries were simultaneous, and lasted 10 days from the gathering of necessary materials to the finishing touches. Construction of Balante was faster due to the materials used (braided reeds).
Bo and Madinka Seed Granaries
The materials necessary to build these two seed granaries are almost the same (soil from a termite nest, clayey enough to make them resistant; sticks of wood of different lengths), with the addition of cow manure diluted in water to smooth the walls, and neem leaves (insecticidal) in the lining and on the floor for the Madinka style seed granary.
The choice of where to place the seed granary in the community is important. For security, it is preferable to place it in the courtyard, protecting it as much as possible from the main winds and from rain, particularly the facade with the door.
A seed granary the size of that built by Michel could easily hold a ton of cereals.
It will be used by the women’s group for stocking the mother bulbs of onions destined for seed production. Onions cultivated without fertilizer can be stored in the seed granary for more than 5 months if properly aligned. This is how it’s done in the villages of the region that Michel comes from. The women often cook nearby, and the smoke repels insects and dissuades them from attacking the stored cereals.
The Balante seed granary is built with ‘crintins’, walls of woven bamboo, and covered with a thatched roof. Its ingenuity is that it is mounted on stilts. The family can install its kitchen underneath, the smoke preventing insect attacks.

Grenier Bo, Djimini, novembre 2011
Bo Seed Granary


Grenier Mandinka
Madinka Seed Granary
Grenier Balante
Balante Seed Granary





Demonstration-grenier-Djimini-3Demonstration-grenier-Djimini-1Grenier balante en cours de construction, Djimini, novembre 2011
   See more photos of the construction of these seed granaries