The Tichift market, located in the region to the north of Timbuktu, serves two purposes. It enables nomadic populations to sell their cattle (their only source of income) and stock up on basic necessities.
The market is located in the Sahel region, about 90 miles to the north of Timbuktu. The Tuareg and Moor people are entirely dependent on livestock farming to feed themselves. The region is relatively isolated, which makes it difficult and costly to assure access to basic foodstuffs such as millet, oil, etc. The farmers can sell their cattle only when traders come by with trucks or by walking a grueling 90 miles through the sand in temperatures over 113°F. These long treks take their toll on the animals, reducing their value along the way. Consequently, the traders always have an upper hand on the farmers in negotiations over price.
AVSF has been working on setting up the Tichift cattle market since 2010.
The nomadic livestock farmers sell their animals at the market and buy the grains and condiments that they need. The Tichift market saves them the trouble of having to walk nearly 180 miles (the nearest market is about 90 miles away). Algerian and Mauritanian traders come to the market with their food products, buy cattle from the nomadic famers, and then head home.
The market itself, which initially only contained three huts and a dozen or so tents, now comprises more than 80 shops selling basic necessities, and a restaurant. More than 14,500 animals were sold between 2010 and 2011, with a 16% price increase to the farmers’ advantage. Food prices have stabilized, with some even falling by 20% to 30% (oil and flour, among others) thanks to diminished transportation costs for the traders, who no longer have to travel 180 miles through the sandy desert with no roads. In addition, they are able to purchase all of their cattle in two days, whereas it used to take fifteen days.
The Tichift market, held once a week, enables nomadic families in the region to have access to basic foodstuffs year round.