What’s Selling in The Countryside

Nearly all of the families in Burundi practice farming, if only a tiny plot. As well, many of the women and kids do roadside selling of their produce, which changes by the season.  Men, also, practice a number of seasonally based small and micro enterprises. 

These ‘micro-sales’ supplement household expenses and can be difficult to capture in formal surveys, generally being ‘hidden’ under the category of ‘subsistence production.’

Here are a few sales now taking place in the local village along Lake Tanganyika:

Tangerine Lady in the village

Tangerines [‘mandarins’] are now in season. They are wonderful here, grow very well along Lake Tanganyika, and are a much appreciated source of fruit and of cash. This young woman is selling tangerines that she and her siblings picked in the morning are now in season.

 They are wonderful here, grow very well along Lake Tanganyika, and are a much appreciated source of fruit and of cash. This young woman is selling tangerines that she and her siblings picked in the morning

Most of the rural sales are done without scales and so items are placed into little bottes, (bunches) as above – each being about the same. One becomes quite skilled in assessing them, and there is no changing of goods from one botte to another! I bought one botte and it was the equivalent of about 15 cents (5 tangerines).

Vegetable sales in Sudanese markets use the same method:

Market sales amongst the Dar al-Manasir of the 4th Cataract in Sudan - same method of selling vegetables. Source: (c) Haberlah

Meanwhile, back in the Village:

A couple of bags of cassava flour are on the table.

The woman in the household above always has one or two bags of cassava flour for sale outside of her house. Just call her at the gate (“Hodi!!”) and she or her kids will come out to sell to you. The flour she mills from her own cassava.

Wild grasses collected to sell for thatch, is a favorite seasonal enterprise for some young men


Collecting rice straw is a seasonal occupation for men and boys; it is used as fodder and as mulch

 In the prairie-lands of East Burundi:

To the East of Burundi, where I occasionally train, household-level small and micro enterprises and sales are perhaps more important because of the relative isolation and lack of resources compared to other parts of the country. A great deal of local fabrication and agricultural production is sold on to small merchants, to who sell in larger markets.

The Mosso region is semi-prairie and farming communities tend to be isolated, often living in valley bottoms as here.


Manioc and maize flour sales in a regional market. Merchants purchase small quantities of flour from persons in smaller markets so that the flours sold in larger markets such as here are generally of mixed quality

Baskets are an important enterprise for women, selling in local markets and to neighbours.Homemade bee hutches, resting against the house, are being sold either to locals or to merchants.


Homemade bee hutches leaning against the house and to the left will be sold to merchants and neighbours.

I brought a couple of bee hutches down to the Lake, and village folks were delighted. Not only is honey an important small enterprise, but the value of bees in farming is well-recognized.

Pots ready for purchase and transport

The government has relocated several groups of BaTwa pygmies, such as the above, in different areas of eastern Burundi.  I visit this group from time to time, in order to purchase the pots that are a traditional handicraft of pygmy groups in the Great Lakes Region. The pots are for the Hotel Club du Lac. Women make the pots; men collect the clay from nearby swamps – which is many kilometers to the West of the settlement.


Their resettled locations are extremely isolated and sales of their pots correspondingly difficult - as is their life, in general.


About dianabuja

With a group of BaTwa (pygmy) women potters, with whom we've worked to enhance production and sales of their wonderful pots - fantastic for cooking and serving. To see the 2 blogs on this work enter 'batwa pots' into the search engine located just above this picture. Blog entries throughout this site are about Africa, as well as about the Middle East and life in general - reflecting over 35 years of work and research in Africa and the Middle East – Come and join me!
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