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Access to freshly harvested crops will improve food security situation in the north

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Burkina Faso
  • September 2014
Access to freshly harvested crops will improve food security situation in the north

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • While ongoing early maize and peanut harvests across most of the country are helping to bolster household food access, poor households in northern agropastoral zones are still facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity as a result of their low incomes. They will be forced to wait until October for access to the first early cowpea and millet crops.

    • New pasture growth in this northern agropastoral zone has been unusually slow due to the string of long dry spells extending into the first ten days of September. The lean season for pastoral populations, which normally ends in July, continued through August, though conditions are starting to improve.

    • The good progress of the agropastoral season in the rest of the country has contributed to the smooth operation of markets, benefiting local households, with larger than usual trader inventories and staple cereal prices at levels below the five-year average.

    Current Situation
    • Cumulative seasonal rainfall totals across the country are near-normal tending towards above-normal (compared with the 1981-2010 average), except in the northeast, which was still showing cumulative seasonal rainfall deficits as of September 10th.
    • In general, the regular rainfall activity since August has helped promote crop growth. Cereal crops are in the flowering stages of development, which is about-average. The first harvests of green maize, cowpeas, peanuts, short-cycle millet, fonio, and tubers are helping to improve household food access and market supplies of food crops.
    • However, the low rainfall in the country’s northern agropastoral zone has produced below-average levels of new pasture growth. This problem is compounded by the invasion of certain grazing areas by a plant species (Cassia tora) not eaten by animals, which is another contributing factor in reducing in the amount of usable natural pasture. Thus, animals were in poorer than usual physical condition as of the end of August. Market prices for agro-industrial byproducts for feed, which normally begin to come down by July, stayed high through the month of August, at levels ranging from 7,500 to 12,000 CFAF or 25 to 50 percent above the five-year average.
    • The main sources of income for households dependent on market purchasing for their food supplies are the sale of livestock, wage income from farm labor, and gold panning activities. Livestock prices are down from last year (by 5 to 15 percent in the case of male sheep and 7 to 39 percent in the case of male goats) as a result of the poorer than usual physical condition of the animal population and the smaller number of foreign buyers frequenting livestock markets. In general, current prices are more or less on par with or, in certain localized areas, 7 to 15 percent above the five-year average. Terms of trade for livestock/cereals are reportedly under the five-year average by 10 to 30 percent.
    • Market supplies of cereals are still above-average, but consist largely of maize. On the whole, millet, sorghum, and maize prices are unchanged from last month and slightly (less than nine percent) lower than last year. Maize prices are under the five-year average by 15 percent and millet and sorghum prices by six percent. The continued sales of maize at government-subsidized prices and fresh market supplies from recent harvests are helping to bring down prices.
    • Thus, the lean season for households across the country is ending seasonably, except in and around the Sahel region, where poor households whose limited incomes are limiting their food access on local markets are coping with Stressed (IPC Phase 2) levels of acute food insecurity.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used by FEWS NET in establishing the most likely scenario for the period from July through December 2014. A full discussion of this scenario can be found in the Food Security Outlook for July through December 2014.

    Projected Outlook through December 2014

    Continued regular rainfall through the end of September in the northern part of the country and through the end of October in the south will enable most crops to fully mature by October, producing average harvests across the country. However, with the pockets of recurring drought in the northern and eastern reaches of the country, crop yields in these areas are likely to be below-average. Similarly, pasture deficits in the northern part of the country could trigger premature herd movements by transhumant livestock and seasonal labor migration by the local workforce as early as December rather than in February, as is normally the case. However, these expected production shortfalls and definite earlier than usual migratory movements will not significantly affect the ability of area households to meet their food needs between now and the end of December.

    Given the above-average levels of trader inventories, the expected average harvests across the country should trigger a seasonal decline in cereal prices beginning in October to levels near or below the five-year average (particularly in the case of maize prices). Thus, with the rebuilding of their food stocks, most households should experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity between October and December.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for 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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