Rising food prices in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso is an agricultural country where more than 80% of income comes from agriculture, this agriculture is dominated by the production of cereals (rice, corn, sorghum and millet…). However, in recent years, Burkina Faso has been facing an economic crisis that has led to an increase in the price of basic goods. An increase of more than 10% of the price index in one year, according to an economist of FASO, inflation considered spectacular which affects, in addition to drinks, construction materials, butane gas, fuel and many other items that we can not finish mentioning. This has been going on for months now. What are the reasons that justify an unprecedented increase in food prices and the high cost of living that we are experiencing? In other words, why are some consumer products experiencing a surge? In a detailed analysis we will try to identify the key factors of this economic crisis.

There are several reasons for the price increase but only two of them are pointed out. These are COVID 19 and TERRORISM.

The corn

Insecurity in the country is the primary cause of rising food prices. The terrorists are mainly in the agricultural production areas of our country. Small and large farmers have not been able to access their fields. When some were able to produce, they were not able to harvest because of the terrorist threats. The region of the Boucle du Mouhoun, where corn, rice, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, and cotton used to be grown, and the northern region, where the land is well suited to potato production, are noteworthy. Currently in all these regions, it is almost impossible to have half of the production of the previous crops. This is the reason for the increase in food prices. For example, the price of a dish of maize that was supposed to be sold at 450 FCFA (0.72 US) is currently sold at more than 500 FCFA (0.80 US). Similarly, cowpeas, groundnuts and other food crops have seen their prices rise. Add to this the poor distribution of rainfall, a natural phenomenon due to climate change. The data from the ministries of agriculture on the last seasons are no less striking. Already at the end of the 2019–2020 season, a drop in cereal production had been observed: a little less than 5 million tons produced, a drop of 4.9% compared to the campaign of 2020–2021 has helped to redress the slope, with 5.1 million tons harvested, it remains insufficient: “the sown cereal areas have experienced a regression of nearly 4%” due to insecurity, notes the Ministry of Agriculture… Then the sector experienced a further drop of 9% in production during the 2021–2022 season, or only 4.7 million tons. Like agriculture, other sectors of activity such as livestock, trade, etc. are also affected. And the effect is relentless; a supply far from satisfying the demand of a population that is growing at an average rate of more than 3% per year.

The bread

Usually, consumers turn to imported products to remedy the lack of national production, unfortunately this is no longer a better option. Especially since imported products have also risen in price. Recently, the price of a 50kg bag of rice has risen to more than 20,000 CFA francs (32.1 US), i.e. 2,500 francs (4.01 US) more than in previous years, the price of a liter of oil has risen to 1,400 CFA francs (2.24 US), i.e. an increase of 500 francs (0.80 US) more, the price of soap has risen by more than 50 CFA francs, and the price of a liter of fuel has risen by more than 100 CFA francs, a month ago.

The second factor is the health crisis caused by COVID 19, which has closed the borders for a long time and hindered the flow of trade. This crisis has disrupted the production and transport chains at the global level. After months of paralysis, the maritime traffic has suffered the consequences of a growing recovery of the activity. This has resulted in the scarcity of containers, overcrowding of vessels and soaring freight costs, which have risen sharply from 800 US dollars in March 2019 to 6,500 US dollars in August 2021 for maritime routes. In addition, there is an increase in demand for containerized transport due to the increase in maritime trade flows as a result of the relaxation of containment measures and the implementation of national stimulus plans around the world. Not to mention the shortage of raw materials. And worst of all, the war in UKRAINE, which has accentuated the impact on the costs of certain imported products, as well as on the prices of other products.

Millet

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Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner