Community cereal banks
allow the management committee to learn how the formal banking system works, because they
will have to open an account in a financial bank in the nearest town, manage the accounts of
the cereal bank members, and invest the profits.
All of this seems to suggest that this is the way to start a cereal bank. But there is a risk that
the village may receive a large sum of money to finance the cereal bank, and then be tempted
to use it for other purposes.
Starting with grain
The main advantage of starting with a stock of grain is that villages, which do not produce
enough, even in a good year, can cover all their food needs. If the Management Committee
only handles grain, they will not learn how to handle money and understand how the cereal
market works. There is always the risk that the village will look on the cereal bank as simply a
source of food aid. Thus, it may be better to start the cereal bank with both cash and grain.
Composition of a cereal bank
The cereal bank members are the ones who own the cereal bank. Anyone in the community
who is committed to the idea of a cereal bank and who will benefit from it is a member of the
Cereal Bank. The cereal bank members should decide on the purpose of the cereal bank; they
should decide how it should be run (for example, whether it should be there to serve the
interests of the community alone, or to make a profit); and they should supervise all its
activities. The cereal bank members normally meet at the beginning and end of each season.
Cereal bank management committee
The cereal bank members elect a management committee, which consists of chairperson,
secretary, treasurer, storekeeper and buyers. There can also be deputies for the different posts,
in case of sickness or absence.
The management committee is responsible for three main things:
Managing the day-to-day activities of the cereal bank
Suggesting to members a sensible social and commercial policy
Taking stock each year of the cereal bank’s activities.
Answering to the cereal bank members.
The chairperson’s job is to be responsible for and oversee the activities of the bank. S/he is
also the main point of contact with the outside world.
The secretary’s job is to record all the administrative and accounting operations of the cereal
The storekeeper takes in the grain that has been bought for the cereal bank and sells it. S/he
is responsible for the upkeep of the store and the condition of the grain in it.
The treasurer is in charge of the money.
The buyers arrange for the cereal bank to buy grain at the best possible price, sometimes
travelling long distances and arranging transport for the grain back to the village.
Qualities of the management committee
The success of the cereal bank depends on the competence and commitment of the
management committee. So, the committee must consist of people who are honest, upright,
dynamic, literate and dedicated to the well-being of the village. The cereal bank members
must choose the committee very carefully, and some of the jobs will need different qualities
from others. For example, the chairperson must be open-minded, able to get people together,
good at negotiating. The secretary must be literate and always available. The treasurer must be
honest and able to do some mathematics. It is easy to check up on some of the requirements,
like literacy for example, but much less easy to be certain about others like honesty and
The cereal bank management committee must be made up of men and women, from all
sections, classes and ages. The cereal bank committee should be inclusive without being
dominated by one group or person.