FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE
One third of the population has no food stocks and will not make it through the lean season
Most households have harvested their crops and are threshing sorghum. According to FSMU latest quarterly report, ‘severe food insecurity has declined between October 2018 and January 2019, remaining at record lows in the monitored areas. The total population experiencing severe food insecurity fell to 1 percent, or 11,268 people, compared to 4 percent both last quarter and this time last year. Moderate food insecurity fell to 36 percent in January 2019 from 52 percent both last quarter and last year.’
According to FSMU, overall, food production, as of January 2019, improved compared with previous years, as stronger late rains and better far farms access increased farm production. Levels of production however are still lower than normal, due to the loss of arable land in Heiban and Umdorein because of the conflict in 2015, but the population has managed to organize effectively in the SPLMN controlled areas of South Kordofan.
However, while this year’s main harvest was better than last year’s, according to FSMU, it did not provide enough for households to last through the lean season. CU monitors reported a growing number of the population already without food stocks in February, and those will to make it through the lean season. As reported by FSMU, ‘in most of the monitored areas […] 34 percent of households held no stocks at all, below the 39 percent of last year and even farther below the 48 percent documented in January 2017.’ In Western Jebels, the share of households entirely lacking food stocks increased from 38 percent in January 2018 to 46 percent in January 2019.’ The situation is especially critical in Dilling and Lagawa. ‘Nearly 50 percent of Lagawa households reported no food stocks in January 2019 compared to 26 percent in January 2018’, noted FSMU.
Food insecurity pockets have been reported by key informants in February in Western Kadugli and Thobo A and B (Al Buram). That is also due to an influx of returnees from both Khartoum and the refugee camps in South Sudan. Reports show that food shortages and insecurity are pushing Nuba people back to the SPLM/A controlled areas. Recent tracking organized by local NGOs has indicated that 112 people returned in late 2018, and 24 in 2019, most of the returnees still go unreported.
While according to FSMU, households reached record low severe food insecurity in January 2019, the moderately food insecure population continued to grow in Southern Kurmuk County of Blue Nile. Alarming levels of food insecurity were reported by CU monitors in February, especially in areas where erratic rains affected food production. Some areas with large and productive farms, such as Benamo in Yabus payam, have reportedly produced very poorly (20-30%). Production in Komo Ganza was affected by early flooding.
As a result, according to the Secretary of Agriculture, for 50-70% of the population in Blue Nile, food stocks will have ended during February 2019. In parts of Koma Ganza and Wadaka, food storages were already depleted by the end of that month and 75% of the communities were already depending on markets to meet their food needs. A recent assessment in the North-West part of Kurmuk revealed that people are mostly depending on roots and wild fruits. Food insecurity levels are expected to grow in the coming months. Eight households were reported to have moved from Chali payam to Moguf due to food shortages.
Investments in restructuring existing river garden sites in Chali and Wadaga, in irrigation projects and in agriculture training should be enhanced in Blue Nile to reduce the effect of erratic rains and chronic food insecurity.
Local food prices remain well above last year’s levels, threatening food access during the coming lean season. At the same time, livestock prices are going down, for example in Western Jebels, affecting coping mechanisms of the population. Because of limited supplies, and the overall crisis in the country, prices are expected to rise. In February, most people could not afford buying commodities in the market. Sorghum prices in Dalami and Um Durain in February were up to 300 South Sudanese Pound (SSP) for a malwa. The sorghum price in Western Kadugli was 35 SDG, three times higher than in the rest of the locality under Sudan’s Government control (as per Fewsnet February 2019), at up to 65 SDG in Western Jebels.
In Blue Nile, according to CU monthly market survey, market functionality was partial in Balila and Mayak with fewer traders and customers than January. This is due to declining of purchasing power from local communities. Road status to Mayak is also an issue. No maize was available in the markets. Generally, market prices in the two markets fluctuate greatly depending on many external factors. On the other hand, Yabus and Moguf markets are fully operational with most commodities available and prices are more stable. Price of sorghum was at 400 SSP/malwa (100 higher than in South Kordofan). According to the Secretary of Agriculture, only 25-50% of the population can afford buying food from market.
Recent assessments in February were conducted in western Blue Nile and North West Kurmuk. People mostly rely on wild fruits and leaves to survive and the two markets, Hemura and Zosok, are functioning though very poorly and only for few hours a week due to insecurity