Skip to main content

Declining livestock-to-cereal terms of trade reduce market access for pastoral households

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Mali
  • June 2015
Declining livestock-to-cereal terms of trade reduce market access for pastoral households

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • For the period of May 1st through June 24th, cumulative rainfall levels in the northwestern reaches of the Kayes region, the southeastern part of the Sikasso region, and the northern reaches of the Koulikoro and Ségou regions were below average. These rainfall deficits prevented the growing season from getting off to a proper start, and agricultural activities are anywhere between one and two weeks behind schedule, depending on the zone.

    • The reduced incomes of pastoral households in northern areas of the country on account of poor livestock body conditions are affecting their market access. These poor households continue to face Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity and would have faced higher levels of food insecurity in the absence of ongoing humanitarian assistance.

    • The coping strategies resorted to by poor households in riverine areas of Gao and Bourem, lake areas of Goundam, the Haoussa area of Niafunké, and northern Youwarou, such as cutting their nonfood spending and turning to less expensive foods, are indicative of the difficulties these agropastoral households are currently face meeting their food needs. However, continued deliveries of humanitarian assistance should keep food insecurity at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels between June and September.

    Current Situation

    Growing Season

    The late start of the rains and resulting cumulative rainfall deficits (Figure 3) have delayed the planting of crops, particularly in the northwestern reaches of the Kayes region, the southeastern part of the Sikasso region, and the northern reaches of the Koulikoro and Ségou regions. However, planting activities for millet, sorghum, and cotton crops have started up in localized areas of southern Mali, though planting rates are down from the same time last year and the average. Elsewhere, land preparation work is still underway. In agricultural areas, ongoing cropping activities are creating average food and income-generating opportunities for poor households. In addition, ongoing average harvests of off-season rice crops in village-level irrigation schemes are improving the availability of this food crop for households and on local markets.

    Pastoral Conditions

    Livestock are in average physical condition in the southern part of the country and are in fair to poor condition in northern areas, as well as in the Kayes and Koulikoro Regions of the Western Sahel. The sharp deterioration in the condition of pastures and water shortages in seasonal livestock holding areas are triggering unusual herd movements in search of watering holes. In addition, there are reports of above-average numbers of animals in physiological distress and of actual fatalities in the Gourma area of Timbuktu, particularly in the Gossi district. The suspension of milk production and livestock losses due to starvation in these areas are negatively affecting household livelihoods. Pastoral conditions in other parts of the country are average, where reported rainfall activity is helping to spur new pasture growth.

    Population Movements

    According to the National Social Development Agency (DNDS) and the IOM (the International Organization for Migration), there are approximately 59,245 displaced persons in northern Mali as a result of the latest security incidents in the Mopti, Gao, and Timbuktu regions. Though things have quieted down to a certain extent, many IDPs are still hesitant to return to their homes. Arrangements are being made to provide food and nonfood assistance for this displaced population.

    Markets and Prices

    Markets are functioning normally with average market supplies, except in the Ménaka, Goundam, and Rharous areas where recent security incidents have negatively affected market attendance and slowed trade flows. The sale of cereals at government-subsidized prices by the OPAM (the Malian National Produce Board) on the Timbuktu and Gao markets is helping to improve cereal availability in these areas. Institutional procurements by the OPAM and humanitarian organizations, as well as household needs for Ramadan, are heightening the normal rise in demand caused by the depletion of household food stocks at this time of year.

    Current cereal price trends vary according to the crop and area in question. Prices for millet, the most widely consumed crop, remain unchanged from last month on all markets in regional capitals with the exception of Koulikoro, where they are reportedly up by 20 percent. Prices are also close to the five-year average in Kayes and Timbuktu and eight percent below the five-year average in Koulikoro, Gao, Ségou, and Sikasso. However, prices in FEWS NET’s areas of concern are up by 14 percent in Bourem, 13 percent in Rharous, and 38 percent in Goundam, negatively affecting the market access of poor households in these areas.

    There has been an unusual growth in livestock market supplies in pasture-deficit areas of northern Mali, fueled by the destocking strategies of the zone’s households looking to cut their losses. However, the poor grazing and watering conditions are weakening demand for livestock which, in turn, is driving down prices. As of the beginning of June, prices for goats were below the five-year average by 17 percent in Goundam and by approximately 30 percent in Bourem. In addition, the resulting deterioration in goat-to-cereal terms of trade is preventing poor households from adequately meeting their food needs. For example, goat-to-cereal terms of trade are below the five-year average by five percent in Gao and Timbuktu, 39 percent in Bourem and Goundam, and 29 percent in Rharous.

    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not significantly affected the projected food security outlook for April through September. However, the following assumption with regard to humanitarian assistance has been updated as follows:

    • Humanitarian programs: The National Response Plan has planned food assistance for 650 000 recipients in the Timbuktu, Gao, Kidal, and Mopti regions between June and September. In addition to these food distributions, 42,394 households will receive millet and rice seeds for the 2015/16 growing season. The provisions and food seeds supplied by these programs will enable poor households to scale back their use of negative coping strategies and devote themselves to the upcoming growing season. The pursuit of therapeutic feeding programs across the country will also help reduce malnutrition between now and the next harvests in October.

    Projected Outlook through September 2015

    Average levels of food and income from typical sources should enable agropastoral households in the southern part of the country to continue to experience Minimal (IPC Phase 1) food insecurity between now and October. Average incomes from farming activities, self-employment, and short-term seasonal labor migration will help these households access food through market purchases, particularly as food prices are close to or below-average.

    Poor agropastoral households in riverine areas of the Gao and Timbuktu regions, lake areas of Goundam, the Haoussa area of Niafunké, and northern Youwarou are in the midst of an earlier than usual lean season and are facing worsening conditions with the rising cereal prices and deterioration in millet-to-goat terms of trade. However, deliveries of food assistance during the lean season as part of the National Response Plan should help limit deteriorations in their food security between now and the September green harvests. Thus, the availability of food assistance and green crops late in the outlook period will maintain household food insecurity at Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) levels between June and September 2015.

    Likewise, shortfalls in pastoral income as a result of the earlier than usual start and severity of the lean season for pastoral populations in northern areas of the country and the Western Sahel are creating Stressed (IPC Phase 2!) food insecurity, which is being held in check by humanitarian assistance programs. However, new pasture growth and the physical recovery of livestock beginning in July will jump-start animal production and boost incomes for pastoral households. By August, this will improve the food security status of poor pastoral households from IPC Phase 2! to IPC Phase 2, maintaining food insecurity at Stressed levels even without humanitarian assistance.

    Figures Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (RFE) for the period May 1, 2015 through June 24, 2015 (in mm)

    Figure 2

    Estimated cumulative rainfall anomalies (RFE) for the period May 1, 2015 through June 24, 2015 (in mm)

    Source: NOAA

    Figure 3


    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top