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Average levels of production expected across the country

  • Food Security Outlook
  • Burkina Faso
  • October 2016 - May 2017
Average levels of production expected across the country

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • With the generally good distribution of rainfall, all parts of the country are expecting average to above-average harvests in spite of localized crop losses in the reported pockets of drought since mid-September, the atypical caterpillar infestations of maize crops, and the usual damage from grain-eating birds.

    • The good water levels in reservoirs will help ensure the normal progress of market gardening activities and adequate animal watering conditions through the month of March, until the usual start of the next lean season for pastoral populations. There will be no major impediments to the progress of other activities such as gold mining, seasonal migration, and farm labor.


    • The household food security situation is normalizing with access to freshly harvested crops. There will be Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity across the country through the end of May 2017 with the stable prices of staple foodstuffs and normal to above-normal levels of seasonal income.



    Current situation 

    In general, cumulative rainfall totals for the period from April 1st through October 10th were near to above the historical average for 1981 through 2010 (between 357.5 mm in 18 days of rain in Baraboulé, in Soum province, and 1162.5 mm in 74 days of rain in Pô, in Nahouri). The unusually heavy rains in certain localized areas flooded fields of crops, caused physical damage, and were responsible for losses of human lives.

    However, there has been a poor spatial-temporal distribution of rainfall since the second dekad of September, with disastrous consequences in certain localized areas, particularly for late-planted maize and peanut crops in the Boucle du Mouhoun, Hauts Bassins, and Cascades areas. In addition to the effects of the reported pockets of drought, caterpillar infestations (in Noubiel, Kompienga, and Sanmentenga provinces) and infestations of grain-eating birds (in the Sahelian and Boucle du Mouhoun regions) are adversely affecting crop yields in localized areas of impacted regions. There are average to above-average supplies of pasture in major pastoral areas and water levels in reservoirs are more than adequate.

    After a normal lean season (between March and May), timely access to fresh crops is improving the food security situation of poor households. In addition, more than 25,000 very poor households in the country’s Sahelian, North-Central, Northern, and Eastern regions have received cash transfers from NGOs in the last three months for livelihood protection purposes. The 26,000 Malian refugees in Burkina Faso are also receiving assistance from the U. N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners. Children under five years of age and pregnant women are being treated at health facilities as part of the « free care » program recently instituted by the government. Individuals suffering from moderate or severe acute malnutrition are also receiving treatment.

    Households are selling certain cash crops such as cowpeas and peanuts and wild plant foods such as locust beans and shea nuts on local markets in order to generate enough income to cover current expenses such as tuition fees for their children. With prices for these products near or above the five-year average, in general, these sales are generating above-average levels of income.

    Staple food prices have been hovering around the five-year average since the last round of harvests from last year, dropping slightly in the month of August with the government-subsidized cereal marketing program and the sale of left-over trader inventories. A normal household demand, regular market supplies, and the government-subsidized cereal marketing program have helped stabilize market prices.

    On the other hand, the decline in foreign demand (from Nigeria and Ghana) with the devaluation of their currencies (the Naira and Cedi) against the CFA franc has driven cattle prices on major livestock markets approximately 30 percent below the five-year average, particularly on the Dori, Gorom Gorom, and Djibo markets. The sustained domestic demand for other types of animals, mainly sheep and goats, which are generally the main animals raised by the poor, is helping to keep their prices 15 to 25 percent above the five-year average.


    The most likely food security scenario for October 2016 through May 2017 is based on the following general assumptions:

    • Above-average crop production: Even with the expected localized shortfalls in their harvests, food and cash crop production will exceed the five-year average due to the yearly increase in the size of cropped areas (by approximately 2.5 percent) and the generally good distribution of rainfall.
    • Average or above-average farm incomes: The expected increase in production and current average or above-average prices should generate near to above-average levels of income for farming households.
    • Normal incomes from other sources: Earnings from other sources of income such as farm labor (from the cotton harvest between October and January and land preparation work as of April), construction work, and gold mining and market gardening activities will be more or less in line with the norm.
    • Normal animal grazing and watering conditions: With the average or above-average supplies of pasture and adequate water levels in reservoirs, there should be a normal pattern of internal (in the southern part of the country) and external (in Mali, Côte d’Ivoire, Togo, and Benin) seasonal migration by transhumant livestock herds beginning in February. There will be a normal lean season for livestock, as usual, beginning sometime in April, with animals maintaining their normal physical condition.
    • Average cereal prices: With the expected average to above-average levels of production and the national food security reserve already reconstituted to its official level, there should be a regular flow of market supplies with no major disruptions. Staple cereal prices should continue to move in line with normal seasonal trends (trending downwards between October and December before stabilizing and rebounding at the beginning of the lean season between April and May). Price levels will be close to the five-year average. However, localized deficits could trigger small price increases somewhat earlier on certain markets, without significantly curtailing household food access.
    • Average livestock prices: Livestock prices in general and, in particular, prices for cattle earmarked for export could remain dependent on foreign demand, which has been adversely affected by the devaluation of the Nigerian and Ghanaian currencies. However, their average food security prospects should prevent households from being forced to sell their animals at low prices. Accordingly, prices for all types of animal could continue to hover around the five-year average throughout the outlook period.
    • Adequate food assistance for refugees: With its relatively small size, the country’s refugee population (approximately 26,000 people) should receive adequate assistance from the U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and its partners.

    Most likely food security outcome

    As usual, food consumption by poor households during the outlook period will involve mostly home-grown crops through the month of March. Households typically start to become market-dependent as of April. Average pasture availability and the good levels of animal watering holes will also keep animal grazing and watering conditions in line with the norm throughout the outlook period.

    The average levels of market prices for staple foodstuffs and their average or above-average incomes will allow households to maintain their food access without depleting their livelihood assets. Thus, most poor households could continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) acute food insecurity. Ongoing prevention programs (free care and distributions of infant flour) could keep the nutritional situation in general and that of children under five years of age in particular in line with the norm throughout the outlook period, with malnutrition rates below the warning level (10 percent), in line with the three-year average.




    Table 1: Possible events in the next eight months that could change the outlook



    Impact on food security conditions


    Atypical institutional procurements within the sub-region

    An atypical flow of cereal exports could drive cereal prices above the five-year average and curtail the market access of households in areas with cereal deficits

    Improvement in the exchange rate for the Nigerian and Ghanaian currencies

    Such an improvement will help boost demand for livestock and raise livestock prices in general and the price of cattle in particular to levels above the five-year average. It will also help revive terminal fattening and slaughtering activities and increase household income.

    Deterioration in the security situation

    An escalation in security incidents across the country as a result of the ongoing terrorist threat could hamper the normal operation of humanitarian programs, slow economic activity in general, and, in particular, disrupt normal market operations. This could curtail household food access.  



    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October 2016

    Figure 2

    Most likely estimated food security outcomes for October 2016

    Source: FEWS NET

    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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