Institutional Purchases of Rice Support Local Producers and Strengthen National Food Reserves
In Mali, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already fragile situation. The cumulative effects of frequent drought and widespread conflicts had already contributed to a progressive deterioration of livelihoods in the country. The number of internally displaced persons has quadrupled in only two years- from 50,000 in March 2018 to nearly 240,000 in March 2020. In the conflict-affected region of Mopti, 34,700 ha of cultivated land could not be harvested in 2020 (FAO, 2020). Every year since the 2012 crisis, 3.6 million people (18% of the population), on average, experience food insecurity, including 600,000 people severely affected (WFP, 2020).
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an additional burden on the country. When the first case was detected back in March 2020, the Government had just announced an emergency food and nutrition plan to mitigate the food deficits caused by severe droughts in 2018 and 2019 and growing insecurity. The Pandemic and the resulting economic disruptions contributed to spread vulnerability to food insecurity in urban areas.
To mitigate the impact, the Government announced a COVID-19 relief plan worth US$57 million, including food assistance to the most vulnerable. The response built on the country’s long experience in implementing food transfers program. Indeed, every year the Government spends over US$280 million to ensure Malians have access to safe, affordable and sufficient food (PNSAN, 2017). The institutional set up for food security is under the umbrella of the Food Security Office (Commissariat à la Sécurité Alimentaire) and comprises three significant public food stock:
- The State Intervention Stock (Stock d’Intervention de l’Etat), which focuses on price stabilization in urban centers and rice price regulation.
- The community-based cereal banks, present throughout the territory, supplying local associations to help them establish and maintain local food security stocks
- The National Food Security Stock (Stock National de Sécurité or SNS) used to provide free food rations to households affected by shocks
Since 2018, ITFC has been a partner of the Agricultural Produce Office of Mali (Office des Produits Agricoles du Mali-OPAM). As one of the Food Security Office's operational arms, OPAM plays a crucial role in the institutional set up to strengthen national food security.
The company is the backbone of the PRMC (Programme de Restructuration des Marchés Céréaliers – Cereal Market Restructuring Program), which involves food shortage prevention and response to emergencies. It has the mandate to manage the State Intervention Stock, which is at a standby volume of around 30,000 MT, ready to be mobilized to face shortages or price peaks.
In 2020, ITFC disbursed US$12.6 million to purchase 14,000 tons of rice, 15,000 tons of cereals and 16,000 tons of animal feed. The funding covered around 47% of the total financing needs of OPAM and benefitted around 300,000 households, corresponding to around 2.1 million Malians, targeted by the Government’s COVID-19 relief plan.
Since 2018, the government supports local rice commercialization by allocating a share of OPAM’s rice market to farmer’s organizations. A strategic partnership has been established between the PNPR-M, the CSA and other institutional actors involved. The collaboration resulted so far in 14,000 ton of rice sold by farmers’ organizations through institutional purchasing contracts. For the latest campaign, OPAM purchased 4,000 tons of rice worth €2 million from farmers. The operation supported local rice producers to sell off their stocks while obtaining reasonable prices. Rice producers gained significant benefits through purchasing prices varying between 313 to 330 CFA (€0.46 to €0.50) against an average price of 265 CFA (€0.40).