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Atypical sales of livestock in the far northern areas of the country

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • May 2015
Atypical sales of livestock in the far northern areas of the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • The lean season for pastoral populations, which has been especially difficult this May, is triggering large sales of livestock at below-average prices by pastoralists in the Sahel and surrounding areas in order to buy food for household consumption and animal feed to maintain their remaining herds.

    • These atypical sales of animals in the far northern areas of the country, particularly in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff, where food insecurity has reached Crisis (IPC Phase 3), have severely eroded household assets despite the use of normal coping strategies such as mining for gold and short-term seasonal rural-urban migration. 

    • In other parts of the country, there are normal levels of market demand from poor households and staple food prices are close to or slightly below the five-year average. Off-season farming activities are winding down with the earlier-than-usual drying up of water sources. However, based on the current selling prices of market garden crops, the relatively good yields of these crops should generate average levels of household income.

    Current Situation
    • Household food security remains normal, though in the Sahelian region and surrounding areas a premature depletion of food stocks (two to three months earlier than usual) is forcing very poor and poor households to cut back their normal two daily meals to a single meal. In addition, the drying up of certain water sources and the breakdown of certain water infrastructure is making it difficult to maintain access to a safe water supply, which has become a chronic problem in these areas.
    • Livestock grazing and watering conditions in northern agropastoral areas of the country are a concern with the lack of forage and increasingly long distances between the few remaining animal watering holes. This is forcing households to resort to the use of agro-industrial byproducts sold on local markets at very high prices ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 CFAF per 50 kg sack, which is approximately 17 to 25 percent above the five-year average. Most (60 to 70 percent) of the animals offered for sale on livestock markets are in very poor physical condition and there is above-average supply of animals on markets, particularly goats (which are five to 25 percent above-average). Prices for all types of animals in good condition are down from last year (by five to 25 percent in the case of male goats, five to 10 percent in the case of male sheep, and eight percent in the case of bulls). On the other hand, prices for male goats are on par with the five-year average and prices for male sheep are above the five-year average by 14 percent. However, terms of trade for male goats versus millet or sorghum from the standpoint of poor households with livestock holdings generally limited to goat herds in poor physical condition whose selling prices are approximately 40 percent below-normal are down from the five-year average by 30 to 50 percent. As a result, these households are having difficulty maintaining their market access for the purchasing of staple food supplies.
    • In addition to these livestock grazing and watering problems, the country has been battling a bird flu epidemic since March. The declaration of an epidemic in seven regions of the country (the Central, Central-Western, South-Central, Cascades, Hauts-Bassins, Southwestern, and Northern regions), with 35 outbreaks, has led to the systematic slaughtering of poultry in and around the outbreak areas. The epidemic is keeping poultry traders away from local markets and producer prices are declining. This could negatively affect the incomes of poor households for which the sale of poultry normally generates approximately 10 percent of their earnings. Deaths from endemic animal diseases such as Newcastle Disease, bacterial anthrax, foot and mouth disease, and hog cholera, which are more widespread than usual in several areas of the country, are yet another problem.
    • Supplies on cereal markets outstrip demand. As a result, prices for maize, sorghum, and millet are generally below the five-year average by 12 percent, six percent, and five percent, respectively. The subsidized sales of maize and rice (at prices 16 to 25 percent below market prices) in provincial capitals are helping to stabilize cereal prices. Cereal prices in the Sahelian region, where the low incomes of poor households are limiting food access, are near average with local markets regularly stocked by traders with supplies from crop-producing areas or wholesale markets (Ouagadougou and Pouytenga).
    • The growing season for off-season crops is winding down. In general, there are average levels of crop production. With current price levels close to the five-year average, this is a relatively good source of household income. For example, a bag of onions is selling for anywhere from 12,500 to 20,000 CFAF, while a case of tomatoes is going for 60,000 CFAF. 

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from June through September 2015. A full discussion of the scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for April through September 2015.

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    Grazing and watering conditions for livestock will remain problematic until the growth of fresh pasture beginning in late July. However, the growing demand for livestock during the observance of Ramadan between mid-June and July and the subsequent improvement in their physical condition with the new pasture growth beginning in late July will strengthen prices, putting them on par with the five-year average. As usual, prices for staple cereals will peak between July and September, fueled by the mounting household demand, but will stay close to the average. Thus, barring any outside shocks, very poor and poor households in the communes of Nassoumbou, Koutougou, and Tin-Akoff will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), while those in other communes in and around the Sahelian region (in livelihood zones 7 and 8) will continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity. There will be a normal lean season in other parts of the country where, with the regular start of the growing season, households will have access to the usual available supply of wild foods. 

    Figures Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2


    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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