GIEWS Country Brief: Sudan 15-February-2018


  • Aggregate 2017 cereal production estimated at 5.2 million tonnes, 40 percent down from 2016 record output, due to poor rains in North Darfur, northern Gedarif and Kassala states

  • Prices of cereals surging to record levels in late 2017 and early 2018, mainly due to sharp depreciation of local currency

  • Food security is major concern in Darfur Region, in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states and for South Sudanese refugees

  • According to OCHA, as of end-2017, about 2 million vulnerable IDPs, mostly located in Darfur Region, were in need of humanitarian assistance

Reduced 2017 cereal production due to localized poor rains in North Darfur, northern Gedarif and Kassala states

The 2017 coarse grains harvest has been recently concluded. The performance of the June-September rainy season was mixed as precipitations were favourable in Sennar, South Darfur, South Kordofan, Red Sea and Northern states, while in Kassala, Gedaref and North Darfur states prolonged dry spells had a negative impact on crop development and yields. The cereal output was also affected by a decline in the area planted as some farmers switched to more profitable cash crops, mainly sesame and cotton. Fall Armyworm outbreaks were detected in some cropping areas, but had a negligible impact.

According to the preliminary findings of the 2017 Annual Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, the 2017 aggregate cereal production (including a forecast of the production of the small irrigated wheat crop to be harvested in March 2018), is estimated at 5.2 million tonnes, about 40 percent down from the 2016 record output, but still 11 percent above the five-year average. In drought-affected Kassala, northern Gedarif and North Darfur states, cereal production was 65-90 percent lower than in the previous year.

Prices of cereals surging to record levels

Prices of domestically-produced sorghum and millet, after some declines in October 2017 with the beginning of the harvest, unseasonally surged in most markets between October 2017 and January 2018, when they were up to more than twice their year-earlier values and at record levels. Notably, prices of sorghum doubled in the capital, Khartoum, and in El Gadarif market, located in a key surplus-producing area, while prices of millet, mainly grown and consumed in western regions, increased by 50 percent in Al Fashir market, located in North Darfur State. Similarly, prices of wheat grain, mainly sourced from the international market, increased in the capital, Khartoum, by 80 percent between October 2017 and January 2018, when it was traded at a record SDG 1 000, more than twice than 12 months earlier. The increase in prices was driven by the removal of wheat subsidies in the 2018 budget, which increased demand for millet and sorghum as substitutes for wheat and by a strong depreciation of the local currency in the parallel market, which triggered a significant rise in the general inflation rate. The exchange rate of the Sudanese Pound sharply declined in late 2017, as the lifting of international sanctions in October 2017, ending a trade embargo and unfreezing financial assets, caused an upsurge in demand of US dollars from importers. The removal of subsidies on electricity, high fuel prices and the localized but substantial crop production shortfalls affecting the 2017 harvest provided further support to prices.

Food security is major concern in Darfur Region, for IDPs and for refugees from South Sudan

According to the 2018 Humanitarian Response plan, about 4.8 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure. A major concern exists for the conflict-affected areas in the Darfur Region and in Blue Nile and South Kordofan states. According to UN/OCHA, as of end-2017, 2 million vulnerable IDPs were in need of humanitarian assistance, including about 1.76 million people in Darfur Region and about 235 000 people in Blue Nile, West Kordofan and South Kordofan states.

High levels of food insecurity are also reported among refugees from South Sudan. The influx of refugees increased in 2017, with about 196 000 new arrivals mainly in White Nile, East and South Darfur and South Kordofan states, bringing the total number of South Sudanese refugees hosted in the country to about 770 000 as of mid-January 2018.

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