FAO/WFP crop and food security assessment mission to southern Sudan


Mission Highlights

- Floods and waterlogging in parts of Southern Sudan during the May-December 2007 period have affected some 56 000 hectares of crops and nearly 90 000 households.

- However, generally favourable rains and relatively few outbreaks of pests and diseases, together with improved civil security situation, have resulted in an above average cereal harvest of about 859 000 tonnes, almost similar to last year's good level of production.

- Market prices for sorghum, the main cereal staple, are generally stable, with nominal prices even showing a declining trend in parts, reflecting the favourable outturn of the 2007 harvest and increased trade.

- With a 2008 projected population of 10.22 million, including returnees, an overall deficit of about 93 000 tonnes is estimated until next harvest towards the end of the year. This excludes an estimated 159 000 tonnes of cereals produced in the mechanised sector, but which are destined for Northern Sudan.

- Satisfactory livestock and pasture conditions, with favourable terms of trade for pastoralists, have prevailed over most of Southern Sudan.

- Despite the good harvest, civil insecurity, population displacement, poor infrastructure and weak marketing system continue to place physical and financial constraints on access to food and make large numbers of vulnerable people dependent on food assistance. As a result, some trade takes place from surplus to adjacent deficit areas, but the lack of established trading networks and the sheer lack of physical infrastructure prevent large-scale transfers to cover the estimated cereal deficit.

- The recently concluded Annual Needs and Livelihoods Assessment (ANLA) estimated that about 1.2 million vulnerable people will face food insecurity during 2008 and will require approximately 76 000 tonnes in food assistance. In addition, about 372 000 returnees are expected in Southern Sudan in 2008, and will require about 26 200 tonnes for resettlement and reintegration.


An FAO/WFP CFSAM worked in Southern Sudan from 21 October to 7 November 2007 to estimate cereal production and the food supply situation. Information was obtained from secondary sources, rapid case studies and key informant interviews. In addition, low flying at 300m above ground level, between Mission visiting points for 80 percent of journeys made over Southern Sudan, enabled comprehensive aerial observations by the Mission teams noting the farm, field, crop condition for the duration of the flights.

Ground verification of aerial observations was conducted by collecting area and yield data from the Mission's own crop cuts and field inspections cross-checked against information obtained directly from State Ministries and from the county Ministry of Agriculture (Ministry of Rural Development) staff, farmers, traders, herders, staff of NGOs and international agencies.

The Mission also undertook spot-check market surveys and, where the harvest had been completed, estimated quantities of stored grain in local on-farm silos.

The following locations were visited: Northern Bahr el Ghazal- Aweil, Alek, Muatang, and Ariek Weik; Western Bahr el Ghazal- Raja, Wau, Kor Malang, and Akoi; Unity - Bentiu and Rubkona; Central Equatoria - Yei, Terekeka, Juba, Kapuri, and Gudele; East Equatoria - Ikotos, Kapoeta and Torit; Upper Nile - Malakal, Mohamed el Jack, Obels 2 and 3, Dulip Hill, Nasir and Pagak; Jonglei - Akobo and Bor; Warrap - Tonj and Gogrial; Lakes - Rumbek and Cuibet; Western Equatoria - Yambio and Tambura.

The Mission team of 16 persons included representatives from the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and Southern Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (SSRRC), USAID-FEWS, WFP and FAO. Location specific information was provided by the NGOs Action Contre la Faim (ACF), German Agro Action, Oxfam-UK, Red Crescent, NHDF, NCDA, NPA, LWF, SudanAid, Swedish Free Mission, Women's Self Help, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Tearfund, and VSF-Belgium.

The Mission Team was supported by information from the FAO Emergency Unit in Juba, Food Security Information for Action (SIFSIA), Juba and Khartoum and the WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) Unit. Recent UN OCHA releases were collected relating to population and flood damage, UN RRR data were obtained regarding returnees and ECHO provided the Mission with Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC)'s Flood Watch reports. A macro-economic digest of the public sector was provided by the World Bank, Juba office.

In accordance with the approach adopted in previous years, the Mission has estimated cereal production (CP) in each county derived from the model:

CP= number of households farming x cereal area per farming household x yield per unit area The number of households farming is calculated using the latest estimated settled population divided by the 6 (UN adopted average household size) adjusted, this year, for flood losses. Cereal area is obtained from historical data, fine-tuned annually according to Mission observations; and yields per unit area are determined using previous CFSAM figures adjusted for this year's conditions determined by the Mission. As well as the current harvest, the mixed cereal estimate includes grains to be harvested in the next 2 or 3 months, which consist mostly of the long-cycle sorghum planted in June in Upper Nile and Lakes and parts of Eastern Equatoria that will be harvested in January 2008. These fields are still vulnerable a) if the rains stop too early and b) if attacked by migratory Quelea quelea birds. The estimate also includes maize and short-cycle sorghum landraces that have already been harvested and eaten "green"'. The inclusion of these latter crops in the cereal balance used to determine surplus or deficit areas, anticipates a similar crop performance next year, which may not be the case.

The positive effects of timely rains with few significant breaks augmented production in all areas unaffected by floods (90 percent of farming households) with increased estimates of areas cultivated and enhanced yields. Farmed area is also expected to have increased due to the presence of 130 000 organised/assisted returnees (22 000 households) of which are thought to have arrived before 2007 and will have farmed this year (1).

However, these effects must be offset, at national, state and county levels against losses of crops on flooded and waterlogged fields. An estimated 7 955 km2 of floodwater, mapped between May and August, 2007(2) in the three most affected states connects to a possible loss of crops for 20 000 households (3). Mission disaggregated data collected from the six affected states(4) recognised by GOSS and including floods and water-logging occurring after August, suggests some 56 000 ha of crops of some 89 000 households have been affected. Further, this year's Mission revised the population data upon which area estimates are based, realigning the CFSAM 2006, mid-2007 prediction with UN OCHA's latest population map thereby slightly reducing the estimated population for settled rural communities with a concomitant effect on area farmed.

The net result suggests that the area harvested in 2007 is similar to the CFSAM estimates in 2005 at 849 000 ha producing 859 000 tonnes at an average yield of 1.01 tonnes per ha. It should be noted that these production orientated figures do not include any activities of the estimated 1 100 000 spontaneous returnees (IDP and refugees), whose whereabouts are uncertain.5 Such returnees are most unlikely to be able to farm in their initial year for plots need clearing and the land cultivating by hand, which takes a lot of time and/or money to employ or attract labour groups under the nafeer system. Although there were adequate seed supplies among the settled farmers, IDPs and returnees and the vulnerable families in host areas, benefited from FAO supported seed distributions.

The only on-farm stocks, noted by the Mission, are those held by farmers in Western Equatoria. These may be as high as 2 tonnes of grains per homestead given the good season last year. As these stocks are carried over from year to year, they are not included in the calculation of any surplus/deficit. They comprise a mixture of cereals, oilseeds and pulses being mostly maize, upland rice, finger millet, sorghum, beans and groundnuts, the markets for which are limited and storage losses are high. This wide variety of grains is, therefore, used in the home and explains the high per capita-per annum consumption figure used in the balance for an area where the preferred staple is cassava.

Previous NGO attempts to promote the increased production of maize and sorghum for sale in Western Equatoria foundered when purchase of the increased quantities did not occur (2000). However, the area is famous for its farmers and the local capacity to produce all year round. New local purchase initiatives are highly desirable to promote development, but, because of the small size of farms and the recent history of broken promises, the initiatives will need to be connected to farmers associations (extant in Yambio, Tambura and Maridi) and long-term (five year) binding contracts. Ad hoc marketing expeditions are unlikely to find the surplus stored at farm level without the fore-mentioned type of negotiations.

The harvest estimate noted in Table 6 connects to a cereal surplus of 3 200 tonnes for a settled population in the urban and rural areas projected to mid-2008 to 8.99 million people. When 1.23 million spontaneous and organised returnees are included in consuming group, the demand, anticipating an average use of 85kg/head/annum, creates a deficit of 93 200 tonnes. Cereal production from the mechanized sector is noted to be higher than last year's estimate at 159 000 tonnes, due to an increase in small-scale mechanised units in Renk (undemarcated farmers), and, on a much smaller scale the production from some 3 000 ha in Bentiu and 2 000 ha in Malakal. So far, pest threats have either been minimal or dealt with by the Renk-based Ministry plant protection unit. However, migratory Quelea quelea birds will remain a threat to the later sown crops until they are harvested in January.

Based on the Annual Needs and Livelihoods Assessment (ANLA) estimates, about 1.2 million vulnerable people and an estimated 372 000 expected returnees will require a total of about 102 000 tonnes (76 000 tonnes and 26 200 tonnes respectively) in food assistance.


(1) UNMIS Returnees, Reintegration and Rehabilitation, August 2007.

(2) UN OCHA Flood Analysis, May and July 2007.

(3) UN Humanitarian Aid Appeal, September 2007

(4) UNHA assessments are on Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei; other states affected are North Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes and Warrap.

(5) UNMIS Returnees, Reintegration and Rehabilitation, Summary Table, August 2007.