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Improved Food Situation, Good Harvest Prospects

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • September 2012
Improved Food Situation, Good Harvest Prospects

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  • Key Messages
  • National Context
  • Key Messages
    • Crop development is above average for this time period throughout the country, due to regular rainfall since the third dekad of July and no major crop disease or pest problems. Preliminary estimates issued in August by the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Agricultural Statistics forecast potential cereal production at 7 percent to 17 percent higher than the five-year average.

    • Consumer and producer cereal prices remained stable in comparison to the previous month. However, they were higher than last year (by 23 to 60 percent) and higher than the five-year average (by 36 to 59 percent). Prices are expected to follow seasonal trends and drop gradually as the new harvests come in and traders sell their stocks.

    • The food situation of poor households is gradually improving with the arrival of newly harvested foods and the continuation of food aid. However until the main harvest at the end of September, most poor households in the country’s northern, north-central and eastern livelihood zones will remain at the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity levels.

    National Context

    The food situation of poor and very poor households began to improve with the arrival of newly harvested foods (early millet, maize, cowpeas, yams, groundnuts, and fonio) at the household and market levels, and because aid operations by the government and its partners have continued. As a result, market prices were stable in August compared to the previous month. However, they still remain higher than last year (by 23 to 60 percent), and higher than the five-year average (by 36 to 59 percent) for this time of year. Prices should begin to drop by December as merchants begin to sell off their cereal stocks. It should be noted, however, that between November and February, the restocking needs of both institutions (at least 35,000 MT for SONAGESS) and private entities (currently at their lowest level, in comparison to a normal year) will exceed those seen in a normal year (10,000-15,000 MT for SONAGESS and 5,000-8,000 MT for private entities). This could slow seasonal price reductions. SONAGESS has continued to mobilize cereal resources from private entities since June to cover the food needs of vulnerable populations under scenario 3 of the government’s operating plan. This could also cause price increases at assembly markets until October.

    Agricultural wages are higher than during a normal year, despite abundant labor supply in areas of concern. The high levels of supply are due to the fact that poor and very poor families are forced to send more members out to join the labor force so that they can purchase cereals. Cash-for-work and food coupon operations by humanitarian organizations are also sources of substantial income.

    Government and humanitarian organizations are continuing their food aid operations. Under scenario 3 of the government’s operating plan, the sale of over 12,000 MT of cereals in municipal shops at subsidized prices (6,000 XOF per 50-kg sack of cereals and 12,000 XOF per 100-kg sack) that began in August will continue in September throughout the country. Free food was distributed in August, primarily by CONASUR (3,200 MT) and WFP (3,900 MT), and will continue until November to help poor households preserve their new harvests. By November 2012, at least 16,900 MT of food and 6.3 million US dollars are to be distributed to about 1.3 million people through planned distributions by agencies such as the WFP and CONASUR. However, rainfall has made some areas inaccessible, which may hinder or even delay these operations.

    Agricultural Season

    Regular rains since the third dekad of July have allowed crops to develop well. Rainfall totals have been normal to above-normal at all rain gauge stations. Plant growth is mostly ahead of last year at this time, and there are no major crop disease or pest problems. The outlook for crops and livestock feed is good if the rains continue until the end of September. Preliminary moderate estimates by the Ministry of Agriculture’s departments predict that cereal and cotton production will reach 4.1 million MT and 445,500 MT, respectively, and high estimates predict 4.5 million MT and 490,000 MT, respectively. This would be an increase of 7 to 17 percent over the five-year average for cereals, and a decrease of 4 to 13 percent for cotton. Even so, cotton harvest estimates are predicting production to still exceed the 2011 production by 2 to 13 percent. A normal progression of the agricultural season is expected provided that no major crop disease or pest problems develop and the good rainfall continues. A preliminary evaluation of the national harvest will be done at the end of October.

    Market Behavior

    Market supply is provided mainly by merchants whose current stocks are at average levels. Fearing declining prices as the new harvest comes on the market, merchants are selling off their stocks, causing cereal prices to stabilize compared to last month. The implementation of various food aid operations, which has increased since July, has also contributed to this stabilization. However, the current month’s prices remain high compared to last year’s (23 percent higher for white maize, 49 percent higher for white sorghum, and 60 percent higher for local millet) and compared to the five-year average (36 to 59 percent higher).

    As in a normal year, the highest prices were seen on the Gorom-Gorom market, with millet at 350 CFA per kg and sorghum at 300 CFA. This is due to the fact that this market is far away from the production areas that supply it. Prices at the Gorom-Gorom market were 13 to 22 percent higher than on the other major markets in the area (Dori and Djibo). Compared to the national level, the price of millet and sorghum on the Gorom-Gorom market were 28 and 33 percent higher, respectively. Given the good harvest outlook, cereal prices should continue to drop until December, with a sharper decline than in a normal year, possibly between 30 and 60 percent lower than peak prices during the lean period in August. Animal prices are stable to slightly high, with more small ruminants being offered due to higher-than-normal demand from Ghana and other countries such as Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. Terms of trade in pastoral areas still favor pastoralists. In July/August, the sale of a Sahelian ram or Sahelian male goat on the Djibo market would allow for the purchase of 230 kg and 108 kg of millet, respectively.

    Refugees and Humanitarian Assistance

    The number of Malian refugees in Burkina Faso has not changed from last month, remaining at 107,000. However, a formal census is being implemented, with level one completed in August 2012. Level two, which involves biometric registration, is underway. It has also been reported that new refugees are arriving due to insecurity in Mali. The government is mobilizing the necessary resources to supply sufficient aid to cover the refugees’ food needs until December. During August, WFP and CRS distributed over 700 MT of food to more than 86,000 refugees. As far as health and nutrition are concerned, according to a survey taken during the census (July/August) by the Health and Nutrition Cluster, ongoing monitoring shows global acute malnutrition varying from 3 to 12 percent depending on the refugee site. Access to some refugee sites (Fererio, Gandafabou) is a major constraint because the rainy season has deteriorated some roads.

    North Transhumant Livestock Rearing and Millet Livelihood Zone (Zone 8)

    In this area, the agricultural season is progressing satisfactorily. Crops are developing well and are farther along than they were during this period in 2011. If the rains continue until the end of September, there would be reason to expect a better-than-normal crop production. Poor and very poor households who are currently experiencing Stressed levels of acute food insecurity may see improvements beginning in October. Food stocks, especially those of very poor and poor households, have been exhausted, and these households are resorting to markets and subsidized cereals sold in municipal shops for their supply. Millet and sorghum prices remain the highest in the country, at 28 and 33 percent above the national averages, respectively. Staple cereals are 55 to 61 percent higher than the five-year average. The government and its partners continue to provide aid through the distribution of free food, which is intended to reach all vulnerable persons in this zone. The program will probably continue until November. In addition, the selling of subsidized food is underway in various locales, despite difficult access due to road deterioration caused by the rains.

    Eastern Reaches of the North and East Livelihood Zones, Livestock and Cereals (Zone 9)

    The agricultural season is progressing normally. Regular rains since the beginning of August have helped crops catch up from their delayed development observed in June and July. More land was planted in cotton this year after an increase in the price per kg was announced. In addition, sesame production may also increase based on the amount of land planted, which rivals that planted in cotton in some locations. The prices of major cereal crops have been stable since July, varying by only 2-3 percent. However, the extreme eastern part of the zone (Tapoa Province) saw the largest price increases compared to the five-year average (62 to 77 percent), which are atypical and greater than in a normal year. Households in this province were the most affected by food insecurity this year due to reduced 2011 production, which ended up covering only 68 percent of cereal needs. Income sources for very poor and poor households include petty trade, which is similar to a normal year; the sale of animals (small ruminants and poultry), which applies to 20 percent more households than normal; and cash-for-work or direct cash activities implemented by NGOs. The harvest and sale of fresh maize has also begun. Nutritional conditions during the second quarter of 2012 were stable compared to 2011, with a slight increase (8 percent) in moderate acute malnutrition and a 7 percent reduction in severe acute malnutrition, according to the East Regional Office of Health. Between July and August, free food (more than 2,500 MT) was distributed to nearly 61,000 households in the East region. These programs will continue from September to November and should reach 91,000 people. Continuation of aid until November will allow recipient households to save their newly harvested stocks. The acute food insecurity level of poor and very poor households in this zone will remain classified at the Stressed level.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar and Critical Events

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar and 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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