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Burkina Faso Food Security Outlook Update

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • February 2012
Burkina Faso Food Security Outlook Update

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  • Key Messages
  • Market Context
  • Key Messages
    • In most of the livelihood zones in the country, more than 80 percent of households are currently able to cover their essential needs without resorting to negative coping strategies. 

    • Acutely food insecure populations will not be stressed before March 2012 according to the Integrated Food Security and Humanitarian Phase Classification (IPC)[1]. Between July and September 2012, this population will experience IPC Phase 3: Crisis.


    • Food insecure households will be the poor and very poor households in the following livelihood zones: North transhumant livestock rearing and millet (8), North and east livestock and cereals (7) and the Central plateau cereals and market gardening zone (5). The Eastern portion of the Southeast cereals, livestock, forest and wildlife (9) will also experience IPC Phase 2: Stress. 

    Market Context

    Preliminary results of the 2011/12 agricultural season indicate that the gross domestic cereal self-sufficiency deficit in Burkina is not significant (with a margin of less than 1 percent of consumption needs). The government analysis of domestic cereal availability, which takes into account commercial and humanitarian imports, projects a surplus of more than nine times the gross national cereal production.

    Cereal production was lower than the average locally, especially in livelihood zones 8, 7, 5 and the eastern part of zone 9. However, good national availability combined with the normal domestic market function suggests that food availability is not a problem.

    The one-month delay of harvests in production zones resulted in longer supply delays than usual and an atypical increase in prices at the beginning of the marketing season in cereal- deficit livelihood zones.

    The joint CILS/FAO/WFP/FEWS NET/Government/NGO mission carried out during January 2012 revealed that:

    • Household cereal reserves are normal for the period in the surplus zones. The supply of dry cereals and local rice in the majority of reference markets is significantly below the typical level for the period. However, supply remains sufficient for demand in consumption zones with relative price stability between December and January.
    • In net consumption zones where production was also below average, household cereal reserves in poor wealth groups will be exhausted one to two months earlier than usual.
    • In all zones, trader stock is at least an average supply level, sufficient to meet an average to slightly higher than average. A majority of this reserve comes from small producers in areas where the production of cash crops is greater than expected, and who are selling their stock given the lucrative prices currently offered. Traders report that availability is sufficient to meet demand.  However, they also report constraints in obtaining capital to respond to increasing demand and prices in the short term.
    • Contrary to normal years, Burkina Faso does not have large cereal surpluses to share in the region this year, and cereal demand and trade flows are primarily domestic.  External demand for cash crops (cowpea, groundnuts, sesame) is X compared to the average.
    • The presence of foreign traders (Malians, Nigerians, Ghanaians and Senegalese) since October in agricultural product markets indicates good availability and integration of the Burkina Faso market in the sub-regional market. In response, the government has taken a precaution by intensifying the control of any “illegal” cross-border trading of cereals. In fact, informal cereal exports may constitute up to 90 percent of all exports.
    • However, it is important to note that the scale of cereal trade and market flows, especially exports, is not significant this year compared to previous years. Increasing shifts in the price of millet between Burkina and markets in neighboring countries is not significant, except perhaps in Gao (Figure 4). Changes in the direction of flows from one month to the next are observed between Ayourou in the north of the Tillabéri region, Niger and cross-border markets in Burkina, indicating a relative balance of supply and demand.
    • Currently, the government has not taken measures to facilitate imports, with the exception of May 2011 as a means of responding to the social crisis affecting the country since March.  During that time, the government subsidized the cost of some essential foods, including rice, oil and sugar.  Subsidies began in early May 2011 and continued for a three-month period, which was also renewed. The entire supply chain from the exporter to the retailer benefited from a national subsidy based on reserve stocks available from market actors.

    Market price analysis indicates a noteworthy increase, not observed in the last ten years, in all livelihood zones. When compared to January 2011, current prices are experiencing very significant increases from assembly markets to net consumer markets.   Therefore, the following observations are evident:

    • Price levels in January 2012 compared to January 2011 are higher everywhere, but very consistent and based on the types of markets.  Price increases are fluctuating between 20 and 81 percent for corn, 6 and 63 percent for sorghum and 14 and 81 percent for millet. The highest prices are observed in cereal production deficit zones located in the north and in the Sahel. In the Sahel for example, current price analysis shows increases of as much as 65 percent compared to the five year average for the same period. In the Western zone, where livelihoods are based on cotton and cereal crops, and which is a net cereal surplus zone, price increases are high: 51 percent for white corn, 48 percent for white sorghum and 50 percent for millet.
    • Cowpea price increases are fluctuating between 20 and 87 percent for the same period.  When compared to a normal year, these prices reduce normal household access to this commodity where it is consumed.  On the other hand, demand-driven price increases favor farmers in production areas, where cowpea is considered a cash crop.
    • Because market distribution channels are operating atypically, market actors do not expect a significant price before the end of the consumption year, despite measures taken by the government to limit cereal exports and set local cereal prices. Normal seasonal price trends for sorghum and millet are expected. This trend for the five-year average is an increase of approximately 2-4 percent each month between February and June and approximately 4-6 percent between July and August, with price stability in September. These trends will lead to price levels of approximately 220-240 XOF/kg for millet in production zones in July-August (30-40 percent above the average, and higher e in Solenzo) and of 240-260 XOF/kg in agro-pastoral zones in the north (up to 80 percent above average). These price levels, even if they are high compared to the average, will be relatively low for the region. In addition, price levels of sorghum, the principal substitute, will be 10-25 percent below the price of millet.
    • According to livestock market actors in livelihood zones 7 and 8, market supply of livestock was high in November and December 2011 due to household sales made in order to obtain cereal stocks before the price increase. Supply over the first two weeks of January 2012 exceeded those in the same period in January 2011. The livestock varieties with the highest transaction rates are poultry, sheep, goats and cattle.
    • Most active domestic trade involves livestock, and especially poultry, goats and sheep. Cattle are primarily exported to Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Cattle export rates are low compared to the same period in 2011, with a 75% decrease in cattle exports observed in the Fada market. This drop is related to the socio-political crisis currently underway in northeast Nigeria.
    • Terms of trade for livestock and cereals continue to favor the pastoralists. In the Djibo, Dori (Zone 7) and Gorom Gorom (Zone 8) markets, the sale of one healthy goat can buy 179, 150 and 135 kg of millet, respectively. On the Kaya (Zone 5) market, the sale of one goat can buy 162 kg of white sorghum.

    Based on a preliminary analysis of agricultural production and further consideration of food prices, the government developed an operational plan to support vulnerable populations, estimated at more than 1.1 million people, almost 20 percent higher than the 2009/10 level of assistance. This analysis does not take into account options to replace and increase income that were observed.

    Humanitarian assistance programs are already underway, led by some NGO partners (CHRISTIAN AID with targeted food distributions, ACF (Action Against Hunger), providing unconditional transfers, cash for work and other assistance to 2,550 households).  Additional financing for more humanitarian assistance is expected from the humanitarian community following the launch of the final government report of the 2011/2012 agricultural season results, which point to a larger food insecure population than previously expected.

    The FEWS NET analysis of the North Transhumant livestock rearing and millet zone (Zone 8), where food insecurity is likely to be most acute, indicates that grazing conditions, which remain below average, are not of great concern. A fifty-percent deficit in local millet production among poor and very poor households suggests a 30 percent increase on market dependence to meet household food needs in the 2012 consumption year. Assuming that the cereal prices will fluctuate between 200-260 XOF/kg by September and that there is no substitution, household food expenditures will increase by almost 75 percent compared to 2011, equaling expenditures of 60,000 to 70,000 XOF over the 2012 consumption year. Wages from agricultural work also were 20-30 percent higher than last year, largely compensating decreased demand due to poor harvests. Without any intensification of the level of work, the increase in the price of hay and heating wood may increase household income by 5,000 XOF per month between January and April. This additional income will allow for 20-30 percent of market purchases needed to meet food needs. Households have also increased migration to look for work and to seek income in gold mines, activities which tend to bring in larger monthly incomes than local hay and wood collection. Assuming no emergency assistance, FEWS NET expects that remaining food deficits are likely to be moderate and severe during the lean period between July and September. Therefore, poor and very poor households in the zone will be under stress (IPC Phase 2) starting in April and in crisis (IPC Phase 3) between July and September 2012. This analysis does consider the impact of nearly 10,000 Malian refugees currently settled the zone. In the long term, the presence of this population will affect prices and already low availability on local markets, and is likely to drive localized conflict over resources, specifically for water and pasture for livestock.

    Poor and very poor households in the North transhumant livestock rearing and millet livelihood zones (8) (except for the West and Southeast parts), those in the Central plateau, cereals and market gardening zone (5) (except for the South, East and Southeast parts), the East of the South-east cereals, livestock, forest and wildlife zone (9) will experience livelihood protection deficits starting in April and will therefore be stressed (IPC Phase 2). Even without assistance in zone 9, the livelihood protection deficit is not expected to transition to a survival deficit between July and September. 

    Figures Graphic of retail prices of millet in production/collection zones (Solenzo, Mopti) and consumption (Gao, Djibo, Tillabéri)

    Figure 1

    Graphic of retail prices of millet in production/collection zones (Solenzo, Mopti) and consumption (Gao, Djibo, Tillabéri)

    Source: FEWS NET

    Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Figure 2

    Seasonal Calendar and Timeline of Critical Events

    Source: FEWS NET

    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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