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Record food prices in most markets in the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • April 2022
Record food prices in most markets in the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The continued deterioration of the security situation, marked by an increase in areas under blockade or inaccessible by assistance, is forcing poor households and internally displaced persons (IDPs) with limited assets available to meet the record prices of staple foods to intensify extreme food rationing. These households remain vulnerable to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, particularly in Sum and Oudalan provinces.

    • Insecurity continues to produce an increasing number of IDPs (more than 1.85 million at the end of March) and to prevent adequate access to basic services. Admissions to health care facilities for children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) during the first quarter were at least 70 percent higher than in the same period the previous year, particularly in the Sahel, Centre-Nord, Nord, and Est regions.

    • Factors leading to atypically high levels of staple food prices, negatively affecting poor household purchasing power and access to food include: Decreasing domestic food availability, greater demand pressure on markets, insecurity barriers to domestic movements, the negative impact of rising global prices on domestic prices, and speculative practices.


    Since the end of the 2021 rainy season, militant armed groups have increasingly attacked the defence and security forces (DSF), the Volunteers for the Defense of the Homeland (VDP) and the civilian population mainly in the Sahel, Nord, Centre-Nord, Est, and Boucle du Mouhoun regions. The number of security incidents involving armed militant groups in the first quarter of 2022 increased by 79 percent over the same period last year. Despite the recent losses caused by the DSF offensive, militant armed groups continue to maintain the capacity to carry out complex attacks on the posts of the Burkinabé military and to ambush convoys on roads. Violence, particularly in the provinces of Soum and Oudalan (Sahel region), Loroum (Nord region), Bam and Sanmatenga (Centre-Nord region), Kossi and Sourou (Boucle du Mouhoun region), continues to result in school closures, curtailment of health services, prevention of local market supplies, and internal displacement, which increased by 17 percent in the first quarter of 2022 to 1.85 million.

    Due to the deteriorating security situation, military escorts have become necessary for the transportation of main market supplies in the northern provinces (Loroum, Soum, Oudalan, and Yagha), especially in blockaded communes (Titao, Djibo, Kelbo, Arbinda, Tongomayel, Déou, Tin-Akoff, Oursi, Gorgadji, Mansila, and Madjoari), often leading to shortages in the supply of staple foods. Similarly, food assistance is limited and irregular and air transport is required to reach most municipalities in these provinces. At the national level, the 10-percent decline in cereal production compared with the previous year, the decline in inflows of maize usually from coastal countries (Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana), the fall in imports (wheat and cooking oil) as well as brewery and poultry supplies are responsible for the decline in market stocks when compared with the average.

    Demand pressure on markets is higher than usual, since household stocks produced for households' own consumption are being depleted at an early stage, IDPs are more market-dependent, and institutional purchases (about 40,000 tons for the government) and private purchases are above average. This pressure is compounded by the speculative behavior of traders, which has increased since the crisis in Ukraine and also since the beginning of fasting. General inflation was about 19 percent in March (National Institute of Statistics and Demographics (INSD), Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), March 2022). Staple food prices are at record levels in most markets, with five-year variations of 62 percent for maize, 59 percent for millet, and 63 percent for sorghum (National Food Security Stock Management Company Market Information System (SIM/SONAGESS), March 2022). Increases of more than 80 percent have been recorded for maize in the markets in Sankaryaré (Centre), Solenzo and Faramana (Ouest) and Titao (Nord), for millet in the markets in Djibasso (Ouest), Titao, and Sebba (Sahel), and for sorghum in the markets in Solenzo, Sankaryaré, Titao, and Seytenga (Sahel). Despite the government's price controls, the prices of imported consumer goods in the capital are up by an average of 9 to 27 percent for imported rice; 21 percent for wheat; 23 to 45 percent for oil, 11 percent for powdered milk, and 13 percent for granulated sugar. This has a negative impact on households’ purchasing power and dietary diversity. The government has just launched the sale of cereal at social prices in certain shops with the aim of covering the majority of the country’s municipalities until the end of the year. As in previous years, however, the quantities involved are generally insufficient to have a significant influence on market price levels.

    Insecurity in general and the blockade imposed on certain communities in particular are preventing people from gaining access to the usual sources of income, including the sale of livestock (although the majority of poor households in the far north have already exhausted their herds and flocks), gold panning, vegetable cultivation, and the sale of fodder and firewood. The disruption of communication networks and the suspension of transport services also contribute to the reduction of cash transfers to blockaded areas. As a result, poor host households and IDPs with low incomes are forced to purchase food on a daily basis and in small quantities (usually one meal at a time) from retailers. Retail prices have more than doubled in the blockaded areas. In the absence of foreign buyers, livestock prices, especially for small ruminants, have fallen by 35 percent in the market in Djibo. Together with the atypical increase in cereal prices, terms of trade for goats/millet have deteriorated by half compared to the previous year.

    In the face of declining purchasing power, poor households and IDPs, especially in urban centers and provinces affected by declining production and insecurity in the Boucle du Mouhoun (Kossi and Sourou), Cascades (Comoé) and Est (Gourma, Kompienga, and Tapoa) regions are being forced to reduce their daily number of meals to two and limit portion sizes. They remain vulnerable to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity. In the northern half of the country, where poor households and IDPs are more dependent on the market and assistance, harmful strategies such as reducing the number of meals to one and limiting adult consumption to favor children are the most common. Assistance has been provided over the past 30 days in the communes of Djibo, Kelbo, Mansila, Sebba, Markoye, Oursi, Arbinda, and Gorom-Gorom (Sahel), Kongoussi, Pensa, Barsalogho, and Kaya (Centre-Nord region), and Titao and Ouahigouya (Nord region). However, this covers less than 50 percent of needs, forcing host households and poor IDPs to increase the use of begging and the sale of water or firewood. In blockaded municipalities in particular, they are using extreme coping strategies, including reducing both the number of meals to one and portion sizes, or increasing the number of days in which they skip meals. These households are likely to be exposed to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) food insecurity, especially in Soum and Oudalan provinces where most of them have lost their livelihoods and, according to key informants, are displaying visible signs of malnutrition, especially among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women.


    The changing national context has not fundamentally changed FEWS NET’s assumptions for the most-likely food security scenario from February to September 2022, except for the impact of the embargo in Soum, which has exacerbated food insecurity among poor households and IDPs and the additional effects of the Ukrainian crisis on price increases and the likely reduction in assistance. Updates to the projections relate to the following assumptions:

    • On the security front, it is expected that the ruling junta will take measures such as negotiating with non-French external donors to strengthen offensive counter-terrorism capabilities and consolidate national security. The increased operational rate of DSF is not expected to have a significant impact on the operational capacities of armed militant groups in the north of the country. Despite recent losses, these groups continue to maintain the capacity to carry out complex attacks on DSF posts and to ambush Burkinabé convoys. The frequency and intensity of attacks by militant groups are expected to increase, possibly reaching record levels since the beginning of the conflict in 2016, during the peak rainy season in July 2022. After this point, there is expected to be a relative decrease in attacks until the end of the rainy season in October 2022. Militant armed groups could continue to fuel attacks on the borders between Burkina and Côte d'Ivoire and Togo, respectively, with a view to extending their control over smuggling routes.

    • In the markets, reductions in production, insecurity along main roads, high transport costs, and a reduction in external and domestic trade will keep cereal supplies below average throughout the period. Insufficient institutional stocks to regulate prices, speculative practices, strong demand from households and processing units, and the impact of rising global prices on domestic prices are all factors that will exert pressure on markets and lead to atypical price increases beyond their seasonal averages. Locally, humanitarian access and supply challenges due to insecurity are likely to create increased pressures and atypically higher price changes.

    • The Ukrainian crisis could have a negative impact on the availability of fertilizers and further increase prices, which have been 20 to 30 percent above average over the past season. Limited access to fertilizers would generally reduce agricultural yields compared to the average. However, the high prices of agricultural products and the pressure of demand could encourage large producers to keep areas planted and increase the demand for labor in line with the average.


    The coming months will be characterized by a widespread depletion of stocks from poor households' own production. As a result, demand pressures are expected to increase in the markets and food prices are expected to remain atypically high, resulting in more limited access to food. The increase in security incidents will continue to limit internal food flows and local market supplies, especially in the northern half of the country. Food assistance could also be reduced due to underfunding and could be irregular because of security constraints.

    In relatively quiet areas in the southern half of the country with well-functioning markets, poor households will need to raise more income, mainly from livestock sales, agricultural labor, and foreign remittances to cope with rising prices. They may also increase the consumption of non-wood forest products and other wild products to remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity. However, in areas affected by security incidents and the early depletion of stocks produced for their own consumption, declining income opportunities will degrade food access for poor households and IDPs. The latter will be exposed to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) food insecurity, particularly in the provinces of Kossi, Sourou (Boucle du Mouhoun, Kompienga, and Tapoa (Est) and Comoé (Cascades).

    In the northern half of the country, where households are facing a deterioration in their livelihoods, harmful food coping strategies are expected to be used, including greater than average use of wild products and emergency food, as well as limiting both the number of meals and the quantity of food consumed each day. Poor households and IDPs will remain generally exposed to Crisis (IPC Phase 3). The continuation of the blockade in Soum Province and the inaccessibility of some municipalities in Oudalan Province for assistance will lead poor households and IDPs to accentuate extreme coping strategies to access food; thus, increasing the number of days without meals, begging, and carrying out forced migration to reach areas where assistance is provided. In these areas, at least 20 percent of poor households and IDPs will remain at risk of Emergency (IPC Phase 4).


    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    Source: ACLED data

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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