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An upward trend in above-average prices for staple foods

  • Remote Monitoring Report
  • Burkina Faso
  • February 2021
An upward trend in above-average prices for staple foods

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Populations in the border areas in the north and northeast continue to suffer from incursions and attacks by terrorist groups that lead to dysfunctional local markets and continued deterioration of livelihoods. Due to the early depletion of households stocks resulting from the decrease in production, displaced persons, and host populations depend on markets. The seasonal increase in above-average food staple prices, declining income, and insufficient humanitarian assistance will expose these households to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) until September while waiting for new harvests.

    • The supply of cereals in the markets is below average due to a localized decrease in production and stock retentions by producers. Due to an increase in demand for the replenishment of traders' stocks and additional needs for transformation units, prices are slightly higher than average. This increase could remain stable until the end of the lean season in September.

    • With access to gold mining sites complicated by insecurity and migratory flows limited by border closings, there is more labor available for off-season activities. However, insufficient water, attacks by pests, and insecurity limiting access to certain areas will reduce production compared to the average. Additionally, the reduction in demand linked to the decrease in foreign purchasers leads to a slight price drop for producers.






    • After an upsurge in cases of community transmission of COVID-19 between August 2020 and January 2021, we have witnessed a drop in active cases since February, with a total of 434 on February 22. Populations are still subject to restrictions, and land borders remain closed. The pandemic continues to negatively affect population migratory flows, jobs in the hotel and tourism sectors, and exports of cash crops, particularly sesame and cotton, given the closure of land borders.
    • Overall, market supplies of cereals are below average due to localized production decreases and stock retentions by large producers. As a result, prices are 20 percent higher than one year ago and slightly above the five-year average.
    • The yearlong disruption in population migratory flows and the sluggish international economy will keep transfers below average. This will be a limiting factor for food access and farm inputs for the families of migrants. However, labor will be more available for agricultural activities and will be reinforced by the additional supply from IDPs. 
    • Higher needs to replenish traders' stocks combined with ongoing institutional cereal orders will put pressure on the markets in the coming months.  However, from March, the implementation of grain sales at government-subsidized prices will help keep prices only slightly above average through the end of the lean season in September.

    Livelihood zones 8, 7, 5, and 9

    • Although incidents and fatalities have decreased overall since July 2020, border area populations in the north and northeast continue to suffer attacks from terrorist groups. This leads to further displacement, disrupts regular market operations, and limits humanitarian access to these areas.
    • IDPs and host populations, whose normal food and income sources have diminished, rely even more on the market and food assistance. Declining purchasing power and insufficient aid are forcing them to reduce the quantity, quality, and number of daily meals. 
    • Despite the ongoing reinforcement of military presence in the area, dispersed terrorist groups could still pose a threat. Insecurity will continue to disrupt agricultural and livestock activities, the main livelihoods of these populations.
    • Supply to local markets, especially along the border with Mali and Niger, will remain below average until the end of the lean season. Due to low or even nonexistent household stocks, market demand will be atypically high and staple food prices will remain slightly to moderately higher than their seasonal averages during this period.


    At the national level

    The final assessment of the past agricultural season by the departments of the Ministry of Agriculture (DGESS/MAAH [Ministry of Agriculture and Hydro-agricultural Development]) indicates an increase of approximately 5 percent in cereal production compared to the previous season and of around 13 percent compared to five-year average. However, on the markets, the cereal supply during February has decreased overall compared to last year during the same period and to the average. The main factors contributing to the results of the joint market assessment mission (SAP, February 2021) were localized drops in production due to unfavorable weather conditions in the Boucle du Mouhoun, the northern region and the insecurity in Sahel and the north-central and eastern regions as well as stock retention by large producers.

    Except for the areas most affected by insecurity, households demand is typical. However, the commercial demand is above-average due to greater need to replenish traders' stocks after the stock drawdowns carried out in previous months to meet the institutional demand from programs responding to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The demands of the new brewing and poultry farming industries also contribute to the increase in demand. As a result, staple food prices are generally registering increases of 10 and 20 percent compared to the previous year. Compared to the average, prices for millet and maize are slightly higher and sorghum prices are stable. Beginning in March, the subsidized grain sale planned by the government will help limit price speculation and prevent a moderate increase in general prices until the end of the lean season.

    Land borders remain closed to travelers. This has reduced the departures of seasonal migrants that generally take place at the end of the harvest between November and January, with coastal countries as the main destinations. For migrants who manage to avoid official controls at higher costs, the sluggish economy in hosting centers will limit work opportunities and therefore transfers to the regions of origin. In addition to migration disruptions, many gold mining sites in the northern and eastern areas of the country are inaccessible due to insecurity. Therefore, market gardening activities are the main source of labor and income. Cultivated areas are increasing compared to the average because in more peaceful areas, some IDPs have received assistance from the government and partners. Despite the above-average labor supply, costs did not vary compared to the average. However, the early drying up of certain water reservoirs (northern, northern-central, western-central regions) could limit the number of production cycles and thus reduce the working hours for employees, which would lead to a reduction in income for these workers. Moreover, diseases in onion and tomato crops could locally reduce production. Regarding the demand for market garden products, it is down compared to the average because, due to insecurity, production sites are less frequented by the main buyers that usually come from coastal countries (Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Togo). Additionally, travel restrictions due to COVID-19, circulation disruptions due to a higher number of checkpoints and the illicit costs that these imply, discourage buyers and lead them to offer producers prices around 10 percent below the average for tomatoes and onions. Overall, income generated by this source is expected to be below average. This could limit producers' access to farm inputs during the rainy season.

    Prices for cash crops, particularly cowpea and groundnuts, produced more by households are stable or slightly higher compared to the average. Outgoing flows to Ghana and Senegal are most significant. In contrast, sesame and cotton producers are facing price decreases of around 10 percent compared to the average due to difficulties in exporting these products.

    In urban areas, poor people, particularly those in the informal sector, continue to endure the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though the government did not apply restrictions during the second wave, which was more severe in terms of community transmission, commercial activities and the hotel and tourism sectors remain at a standstill. This does not foster work opportunities. On the contrary, job losses and income declines negatively affect the purchasing power of poor households. This situation could continue during the coming months in view of the still-alarming global situation.


    In the production areas of the country that are not affected by conflict, most poor households will have typical access to food from their own stocks, supplemental purchases at the markets, and from harvest products that are available between June and September. Most poor households in calmer areas will remain in Minimal acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 1) until September. The second wave of the pandemic prevented the normal resumption of economic activities and the purchasing power of poor people in urban areas, particularly those in the informal sector, is still decreasing given the reduction in income and the slight increase in staple food prices. This forces them to change their food habits and/or to reduce their consumption quantity. Less than 20 percent of the population in these areas will remain Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September.

    Livelihood zones 8, 7, 5, and 9 (Sahel, Centre-Nord, Nord, and Est regions)

    These regions, particularly the border areas in the north and north-east, continue to suffer attacks by terrorist groups. This leads to new displacements and does not allow populations to return to their regions of origin. The reinforcement of security forces along the main roadways allows for supplying the main markets. Despite all of this, given the fact that households rely on the markets, staple food prices are 10 to 20 percent above average in the Djibo, Arbinda, Titao, Gayéri, and Fada markets.

    In the main livestock markets, the supply of small ruminants and cattle is decreasing compared to last year: 22 and 26 percent respectively in the Dori market and 26 and 33 percent in the Djibo market. Moreover, last year, due to frequent livestock attacks and looting, breeders had to reduce their stocks to flee their regions and meet their needs, which reduces sale opportunities this year. A decrease in supply is also observed compared to the five-year average:  9 and 20 percent for small ruminants respectively in Dori and Djibo, and 13 and 36 percent for cattle in these markets respectively, due to breeders abandoning the region and also due to stock drawdown from previous years. However, demand remains satisfactory because at least 85 percent of the animals available in markets are purchased, except for cattle, whose demand represents 75 percent of the supply in Dori. The main buyers are national traders and especially Ghanaians present in the main markets.  Compared to the average, however, demand is down by 20 percent for small ruminants and 38 percent for cattle. Compared to the five-year average, prices in January remain stable (bulls and rams) or are slightly higher (goats) in the Dori market. However, in the Djibo market, prices are up by 17 percent for rams, 62 percent for goats, and 13 percent for bulls. The terms for goat/millet trade favor the breeders and are similar to the Dori market average and 47 percent higher than average in the Djibo market.

    This situation could hide the reality of border towns facing attacks and looting by terrorist groups during the last three months. In fact, transporters and local livestock buyers are having difficulty accessing the local markets in these zones. For example, in the Tin-Akoff market in the province of Oudalan, due to supply difficulties and the increase in demand, prices of millet and sorghum remain high and have increased by 41 and 30 percent respectively compared to last year. The terms of trade for livestock and cereals are against the breeders there.

    Market purchases and humanitarian assistance will remain the primary food source for IDPs and host households. An assessment performed on IDPs (SP/CONSUR, January 2021) shows that around 68 percent can access markets for a food source. As their income is limited due to the deterioration of livelihoods, they adopt food access strategies like a reduction of daily consumed quantities (81 percent of cases), asking or begging for food (34 percent of cases), and consuming less preferred food (27 percent of cases).

    Given the difficulty of physical access, humanitarian assistance that is usually planned between October and December 2020 has been performed at 82 percent, on average. The assistance planned for January and February should reach 29 percent of the population in the province of Sanmatenga, where humanitarian access is more guaranteed, and below 20 percent in the other provinces. 

    The reinforcement of military operations in the north and in the east could contribute to limit the attacks by terrorist groups. But it is likely that the security situation will remain precarious during the coming months, taking into account the multiplicity and mobility across borders of terrorist groups.  This situation will continue disrupting the operations of local markets, limiting future agropastoral activities, and limiting humanitarian access. The absence or deficiencies in IDP and host household stocks will entail an atypical reliance on markets until the new harvests in September. Between February and September, staple food prices will remain above the seasonal average with slight to moderate increases. This will continue to adversely affect their access to food.

    The nutritional situation remains fragile at the national level and results in a high prevalence of global acute malnutrition of around 9 percent, according to the results of the SMART (Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition) national survey carried out between October and November 2020.   The deterioration of household food consumption, particularly from IDPs and host households, limited access to health care services given the closure and reduced operation of health centers, permanent population displacements, seasonal increase in cases of waterborne diseases and malaria constitute the main factors that will generate a deterioration of the nutritional situation. According to the IPC/AM analysis (DN, December 2020), the nutritional situation could continue to worsen in the northern provinces, where the nutritional situation could go from a serious to a critical phase during the lean season between May and July. 

    Between February and May, ongoing food assistance could lead to Stressed acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 2) in the more accessible province of Sanmatenga.  In other provinces where IDPs represent at least 20 percent of the population (Soum, Séno, Oudalan, Bam, Nametenga, Loroum, and Yagha), an acute food insecurity Crisis (IPC Phase 3) could affect both IDPs and host populations. This situation will persist until September given the early depletion of stocks from self-production, the seasonal increase in above-average staple food prices, and the permanent deterioration of livelihoods which will affect more households.


    Figure 1


    Source: FEWS NET

    Evolution des incidents de sécurité et des fatalités de janvier 2018 à janvier 2021. Les incidents on atteint leurs piq en ma

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Evolution des incidents de sécurité et des fatalités de janvier 2018 à janvier 2021

    Source: FEWS NET

    Marché de Djibo : Prix du kg de mil au détail en FCFA. Le prix du mil reste au dessus de la moyenne quinquennale et du niveau

    Figure 3

    Figure 2. Marché de Djibo : Prix du kg de mil au détail en FCFA

    Source: FEWS NET/Projection basée sur les données de SIM/SONAGESS

    In remote monitoring, a coordinator typically works from a nearby regional office. Relying on partners for data, the coordinator uses scenario development to conduct analysis and produce monthly reports. As less data may be available, remote monitoring reports may have less detail than those from countries with FEWS NET offices. Learn more about our work here.

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