In the North of Burkina Faso, rural populations use rain-fed subsistence farming. So they depend on climate variations. For this reason, the production varies strongly from year to year and the basic needs are not always satisfied.
The production is mainly based on cereals (particularly sorghum) and is directed to their own consumption. The cereals are stocked in traditional stores and consumed all year long by the family farms’ members. During the dry season, other economic activities are led: nearly all family farms buy and sell small livestock as part of extensive farming ac￼tivities. When the context enables it, some families (25%) also use an off-season farming, which products are exclusively reserved for sales. 57% of them have at least one member involved in artisanal gold mining and 86% have an activity generating incomes (usually small business).
These economic activities enable to ensure the purchase of supplementary food. Migrant workers’ transfers complete significantly these resources.
As many villages are isolated, cereals are not sufficiently available. If they are available, their price is quite expensive. During rainy seasons, when the demand and the prices in- crease and when farmers’ financial resources are nearly used up, access to cereals is even more limited.
For these reasons in particular, banks of cereals in villages were created across the whole Sahel (estimated at 4,000 at the beginning of the 1990s, the golden age for cereal banks). Various experiences failed. Indeed, they were not sustainable because of governance and management problems.
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