IMPORTANT: This report is based on information gathered in South Sudan up to December 2019, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, and thus the assessment does not take into consideration the impacts of the virus on the food security and agriculture sector of the country
The 2019 net cereal production (after deduction of post-harvest losses and seed use) in the traditional sector is estimated at about 818 500 tonnes, 10 percent above the 2018 output and 4 percent below the average of the previous five years.
With a projected population of about 11.8 million in mid-2020, the overall cereal deficit in the January-December 2020 marketing year is estimated at about 482 500 tonnes, 7 percent below the deficit estimated for 2019, but still 22 percent above the 2015-2019 average.
In January 2020, 45 percent of the population (about 5.3 million people) were in Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) phases 3 “Crisis”, 4 “Emergency” and 5 “Catastrophe”, a 9 percent decrease compared to January 2019 and also an improvement relative to August 2019. This is likely due to a slow accumulation of improvements in security, trading and marketing activities as well as crop production. As expected, these proportions will increase in the lean period of mid-2020: the proportions of population in IPC phases 3 and higher are projected to reach 55.4 percent in May-July 2020. This is a modest improvement relative to last year, but does not foresee any population in IPC Phase 5.
Household food insecurity reached record levels in mid-2019 (77 percent of the population, with 33 percent severely food insecure), likely due to extreme rises in staple food prices. The situation improved by late 2019 to values lower than at the same time last year and similar to those registered in December 2016 and 2017. The largest improvements were recorded in Upper Nile, Unity and Lakes states, while in Jonglei State flooding impacts led to a worsening of the situation.
The increase in cereal production, compared to the previous year, was driven by abundant and well-distributed rains over most cropping areas, increasing yields, and by an expansion in the harvested area.
The harvested area in 2019 is estimated at about 930 000 hectares, over 5 percent above the 2018 level, but still well below the pre-conflict levels. The increase is mainly due to security improvements that prompted some displaced households to return to their places of origin and engage in agricultural activities as well as encouraging farmers to expand plantings to fields far from their homesteads.
Excessive rains in Northern Bahr el Ghazal,
Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap and Unity states have triggered unusually widespread floods in the low-lying areas, which affected about 900 000 people and caused significant losses of crops and livestock.
In 2019, outbreaks of Desert Locusts and Quelea Quelea birds (QQU) caused some localized crop losses, especially in Upper Nile State. Damages from Fall Armyworm (FAW) were less than in previous years as the heavy seasonal rains largely neutralized the pest. Weed infestations were exceptionally severe in most cropping areas this year due to abundant precipitation.
The above-average rains benefited the availability of pasture and water for livestock, with a favourable impact on animal body conditions, assessed as generally good. In the flood-affected areas, a substantial increase in water-borne livestock diseases are reported.
Despite the improvements, the security situation is still volatile and continues to alter livestock espite the improvements, the security situation is still volatile and continues to alter livestock marketing activities and migration routes.
Cattle raiding incidents have increased in 2019 compared to 2018, particularly in Jonglei,
Warrap and Unity states.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased by about 8 percent in 2019, mainly due to increased oil revenues, after having remained mostly stable in 2018 and having declined by 24 percent between 2014 and 2017.
The South Sudanese Pound (SSP) depreciated by 32 percent in 2019 on the parallel market and the spread between official and parallel market exchange rates further widened, increasing from about 60 percent in late 2018 to almost 100 percent in late 2019.
Inflation, already at high levels owing to insufficient food supplies, high fuel costs and a weak local currency, surged between August and October 2019, mainly due to flood-related trade disruptions, with the year on year inflation rate reaching 170 percent. It subsequently declined as food prices decreased with the 2019 harvest, but at about 70 percent in December, it remained very high.
Prices of wheat, sorghum and maize continued to increase in 2019 and, in December, they were 45, 75 and 90 percent higher, respectively, than one year earlier and 15-20 times above their levels in July 2015, when they started to surge. The high prices are due to a weak local currency, limited cereal supplies and the lingering impact of the conflict on trade and agricultural activities.
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country stood at 1.47 million in December 2019 and the number of South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries was close to 2.22 million. Following improvements in security, about 418 000 displaced people returned to their places of origin in 2019, of which about 277 000 from within South Sudan and 141 000 from abroad.
Under the 2020 Emergency Livelihood Response programme, FAO plans to support 775 000 severely food insecure farming, fishing and agro-pastoral households with emergency livelihood support, by giving priority to the most vulnerable people, including women-headed households, IDPs, returnees and host communities.