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Limited market access in some areas as of March due to high food prices

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • December 2017
Limited market access in some areas as of March due to high food prices

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The seven percent boost in cereal production from 2016/2017 putting it 32 percent above the five-year average is helping to give households average cereal availability and provide adequate market supplies, keeping food insecurity for the large majority of households at Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels in December 2017.

    • Households in farming areas have average food access with the availability of home-grown crops and with food prices in line with or slightly above the average. There is poorer than average food access in some pastoral areas due to the below-average terms of trade for livestock. 

    • The pastoral lean season will begin earlier than usual due to the pasture deficit and ensuing large concentrations of livestock herds in relatively lush areas of the Western Sahel and the Gao and Timbuktu regions, with negative effects on animal production and the incomes of pastoral households.

    • There will be an earlier than usual deterioration of  Minimal (IPC Phase 1) levels of food insecurity currently experienced by most agropastoral households across the country by March in low-production areas of the Western Sahel and Niger River Delta and in pastoral areas of Timbuktu and Gao due to the deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereals. 



    Growing season

    Harvests for the current growing season are actively underway all across the country and are generally in line with the average, improving household food availability and food access. National cereal production is up from last year by seven percent and approximately 32 percent above the five-year average (Source: CPS/SDR). However, there are reportedly pockets of average to large production shortfalls in rice-growing areas of the central Niger River Delta (Djenné, Tenenkou, and Mopti) and in the Western Sahel due to the low rates of flooding from the river and the prematurely ending rains in the latter area.

    Crop planting activities for off-season market garden crops are underway, with average to poor production prospects due to the low availability of water in normal market gardening areas, which is limiting the size of viable farming areas.

    In general, pastoral conditions across the country are average, with pockets of pasture deficits which will negatively affect grazing conditions for livestock between March and June. There are already reports of early herd movements out of the Gourma area of Gao and premature herd movements from Mauritania into the Western Sahel. In general, livestock are in average physical condition and there are average levels of animal production. On the whole, animal health conditions are relatively stable.

    Markets and prices

    The seasonal boost in supplies of fresh crops from ongoing harvests is further improving the already adequate market supplies in all parts of the country. Access to supplies of fresh crops, though smaller than average in some areas, is depressing consumer demand on local markets, except in pastoral areas experiencing the usual growth in demand, fueled by favorable terms of trade. The seasonal drop in cereal prices is not as sharp as usual due to the restraint shown by farmers in unloading their crops and, in particular, the priority placed on the sale of cash crops (pulses, oilseeds, and cotton). Even with the downward trend in prices, cereal prices as of the end of November were still above the five-year average, particularly in Ségou (+44 percent), Timbuktu (+24 percent), and Mopti (+22 percent), which is negatively affecting the market access of poor non-farming households.

    There are growing supplies on livestock markets with the return of transhumant herds and the need of pastoral households to replenish their food stocks. The resumption of exports to Niger has helped trigger a rebound in livestock prices in the Gao and Timbuktu regions, which is helping to improve the incomes of pastoral households. As of the end of November, prices for female goats, the animal most commonly sold by poor households, were unchanged or up from the previous month. They were above the five-year average by 17 percent in Goundam, five percent in Rharous, and two percent in Gao and 12 percent below the five-year average in Ménaka. Though improved compared with the previous month, terms of trade for goats/millet were below-average by approximately 26 percent in Bourem, 16 percent in Goundam, and 10 percent in Rharous and Timbuktu and 14 percent above-average in Gao, giving pastoral households poorer than average market access.

    Population movements and security issues 

    A look at population movements shows a steady flow of displaced persons and refugees returning to their home areas. According to the report by the CMP (the Commission on Population Movements), as of the end of November, there were 40,743 internally displaced persons, compared with 50,794 at the end of September 2017. These movements are affected by the stubborn residual security problems in the Mopti, Timbuktu, and Gao regions, which are continuing to disrupt the free movement of people and goods and hinder the economic recovery. 


    The current situation has not affected the assumptions used in projecting the most likely food security scenario for the period from October 2017 through May 2018.


    The average availability of crops across the country and near to slightly above-average food prices are helping to give most households average food access. The food and income-generating opportunities afforded by work in the harvest and their average incomes from wage labor in normal farming and non-farming activities are giving most households relatively easy food access. As a result, they will experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between December 2017 and May 2018.

    The premature depletion of their food stocks and the rise in cereal prices to above-average levels will prompt poor households in lake areas of Goundam and parts of the Western Sahel and central Niger River Delta area to resort to atypical coping strategies involving wage labor, borrowing, and cutbacks in nonfood spending. This will put these households in the Stressed (IPC Phase 2) phase of food insecurity as of April 2018. The same applies to pastoral households in the Gourma area of Gao and Timbuktu affected by a premature deterioration in terms of trade for livestock/cereals and the problematic food security conditions created by an unusually early lean season for pastoral populations. 

    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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