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High food prices are reducing poor household access to food

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • April 2022
High food prices are reducing poor household access to food

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The 10 percent decline in cereal production compared to the five-year average has reduced the availability of cereals in the markets. Market supplies are below average but are still sufficient to meet consumer demand. The off-season rice harvests expected from May to June will improve availability in irrigated areas throughout the country.

    • Household access to food has deteriorated as a result of the atypical rise in food prices, from 20-70 percent compared to the five-year average and historical levels over the past two decades. The marked decline in terms of trade for livestock and cereals, from 20-30 percent, is reducing the purchasing power of pastoral households.

    • The current lean season is difficult for livestock in areas in the northern part of the country and the western Sahel, which are experiencing an early deterioration of pasture and watering holes and are exacerbated by difficulties in accessing some pasture. Moreover, the limited availability and rising price of livestock feed is restricting farmer access to livestock, making dairy maintenance difficult and reducing their household incomes.

    • Increasing evidence of deterioration of the food situation in the Liptako Gourma zone due to limited access to food is leading to atypical use of strategies to reduce non-food and even food expenditure. As a result, poor households in the insecure northern parts of the Liptako Gourma zone will again find themselves in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to September 2022. Poor households in urban centers, the western Sahel zone and the Niger River Valley are more dependent on markets for food than usual; they will be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) from April to September 2022.


    Seasonal progress: Production projections are below average for the season overall. Vegetable crop harvests are in progress and are generally similar to an average year. Produce sales are providing farmers with an average income except in areas of insecurity, where harvests are below average due to the reduction in areas under cultivation. The growing season for irrigated and flood recession rice crops is changing in terms of irrigated areas and flood recession lakes and ponds. Areas under cultivation are below average because of insecurity in the Office du Niger area for rice and the low water level in lakes and ponds for flood recession crops. Ongoing maintenance activities are providing employment and food opportunities for poor households in irrigated areas and around lakes in Tombouctou and Mopti. The rise in fertilizer prices linked to the crisis in Ukraine, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sanctions, and insecurity will reduce expected production, especially for irrigated rice.

    Pastoral conditions: Early deterioration of pasture and watering holes due to a shortage of biomass production, high herd concentrations due to the disruption of livestock movements in insecure areas, bushfires in pastoralist areas in the north of the country, a 20 percent rise in feed prices, and the early descent of transhumant herds in the western Sahel area are adversely affecting livestock feeding in these areas. Herds are in the usual dry-season areas on the riverside and at permanent watering holes. The overall animal health situation is stable and the vaccination campaign is continuing with the support of humanitarian partners such as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the FAO. The decline in milk production is continuing as normal due to the current lean season but is more marked in the pastoral areas in the north of the country and the western Sahel, which are experiencing feeding difficulties. As a result, pastoral incomes from livestock and animal product sales are lower than normal in these regions.

     Fishing: Fishing is being actively pursued thanks to the removal of barriers around collective fishing areas and the falling river levels. Current average catches are earning income that is deemed medium to high for fishing households except in areas of insecurity, where activities have been disrupted.

    Security situation:  Persistent security incidents continue to disrupt economic activities in the Liptako Gourma area, in places in the Tombouctou, Gao and Kidal regions, and in northern Ségou and Koulikoro. Livestock theft, the destruction of property, and limited access to fields are having a significant negative impact on livelihoods for households and further exposing them to food insecurity. According to Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) data, the number of security incidents has increased by 31 percent compared to the first quarter of 2021, particularly in the Liptako Gourma zone bordering Niger, where there was an increase in attacks in southern Ménaka that has led to population movements. The number of displaced persons in February 2022 was estimated at 362,907 (62,254 households) compared to 350,866 (62,476 households) in January 2022.

    Markets and prices: Market food supplies continue to be below average due to the overall fall in cereal production of about 10 percent compared to the average (Planning and Statistics Unit/Rural Development Sector) and the decline in trade flows with external markets linked to ECOWAS sanctions. Cereal prices continue to rise in the country’s markets due to lower supply, the Ramadan effect, and higher transport costs, which have been exacerbated by the latest increases in fuel prices. Compared to the five-year average, the price of millet, the main staple cereal, in markets in the regional capitals has increased by 14 percent in Kidal, 19 percent in Tombouctou, 29 percent in Ménaka, 35 percent in Gao, 43 percent in Kayes, 51 percent in Koulikoro, 61 percent in Mopti, 72 percent in Sikasso, and 80 percent in Ségou, which is reducing the ability of households to access food.

    Livestock supply remains disrupted in insecure areas, reducing flows to the main markets. Livestock prices, despite difficult pastoral conditions in some places, are similar to the five-year average overall due to falling supply, rising demand, and high feed prices. Goat prices are higher in the pastoral markets monitored compared to the five-year average, by 5 percent in Mopti, 13 percent in Nara, 32 percent in Rharous, 31 percent in Gao, and 37 percent in Tombouctou and Bourem. Nevertheless, terms of trade for goat/millet are generally worse than in the previous month because of the very high price of cereals. They are lower than the five-year average in Bourem (-5 percent), Nara (-32 percent), Rharous, and Mopti (-35 percent), and stable or slightly improved in Ménaka (+2 percent), Gao (-3 percent), and Tombouctou (+11 percent), reducing access to food by livestock and farming households.


    The current situation has not fundamentally affected the assumptions used to develop the FEWS NET most likely scenario for April to September 2022. It could, however, be subject to change linked to the sharp increase in food prices in Mali and the crisis in Ukraine. The updates are therefore as follows.

    • Food price trends: The trend towards an early increase in prices since the harvest continued until April, which is the usual period of seasonal price increases. This trend is expected to continue until September, slowing down after Ramadan, which is a typical period of high demand. The 25 percent increase in prices compared to the five-year average and historical levels for local products for around two decades are expected to continue due to ongoing ECOWAS sanctions, insecurity affecting trade flows, and higher transport costs, which will increase the number of people in need.

    • Impact of the Russian/Ukrainian crisis: Increased wheat prices as a result of the ongoing crisis in this part of the world and rising global prices for a barrel of oil will negatively affect the availability of manufactured and imported products and keep their prices on an upward trend. This will reduce access by poor households to these products, especially in urban centers and northern areas, where consumption is high. As a result, the almost 60 percent decline in the availability of fertilizers, mainly from Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, and the expected price increase of more than 50 percent in March 2022 as a result, will lead to a decline in agricultural production in the new growing season because of the difficulties producers will face in accessing these products.


    The 10 percent decline in cereal production due to adverse weather and insecurity, as well as the decrease in trade flows resulting from the ECOWAS sanctions, the impact of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis on the price of oil, transport, and the supply of certain imported foodstuffs, such as oil and wheat flour, have reduced food availability compared to a normal year. According to the mobile Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (mVAM) survey in the first quarter of 2022, 9 percent of households had a poor food consumption score (FCS), 6 percent were moderately hungry and 18 percent were developing crisis coping strategies, namely reducing essential non-food expenditure, selling productive assets and depending on assistance from relatives/friends in the community. Access to food for poor households is becoming increasingly difficult because of the atypical rise in food prices, particularly in the insecure areas of the northern part of the country, the Liptako Gourma area and the western Sahel, where households are experiencing a deterioration in livelihoods and high dependence on markets for their supplies. In addition, declining incomes due to security incidents and falling terms of trade for livestock/cereal of more than 20 percent compared to the average are reducing access to food for households. As a result, poor households in these areas will again face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from April to September 2022.

    The early depletion of stocks in Kayes and Koulikoro in the western Sahel, following poor agricultural production, has resulted in an early lean season for poor households in the area. These households are therefore experiencing increased market dependency amid staple food prices that are more than 40 percent above average. Intensification of labor activities, migration, borrowing of money and food, and a reduction in non-food expenditure are leading to a deterioration in food consumption. As a result, they will remain in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) until September 2022. The situation could, however, deteriorate to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) for the poorest households without humanitarian assistance. The same would apply to poor people in urban centers, who are suffering a reduction in income because of the decline in economic activities.

    Figures Terms of trade  in selected markets in March 2022 (kg/animal)

    Figure 1

    Figure 1

    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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