FOOD SECURITY AND AGRICULTURE
Food security continues to deteriorate in Blue Nile
Blue Nile (Southern Kurmuk County)
Food insecurity has worsened in Blue Nile, particularly in Komo Ganza, Wadaka, and Yabus payams. In the most affected areas, communities depend on wild roots, fishing, and honey for food. CU reports indicate that families reduced the number of meals eaten in a day because of no food stocks left, particularly in Komo Ganza. Only 45 per cent of local farmers are likely to have a good harvest of long-term sorghum. For instance, in Koma Ganza, crops dried up due to a dry spell in addition to pests and diseases. The harvest is not expected to last past March of 2022.
Within the reporting period, four markets across Blue Nile were fully functional in November 2021, and prices of some items saw a sharp increase in prices of staple commodities, with sorghum reportedly being scarce in the four monitored markets. The deteriorating value of the SSP and ETB coupled with high insecurity in Ethiopia and bad roads were the major constraining factors affecting the functioning of the market. In Balila and Mayak markets, prices of many food items saw an increase, specifically – the price of sorghum increased from 2,500 SSP to 3,000 SSP in Balila market in November – meat prices also increased by 60 per cent in November 2021. Amora Hills and Zosok enclaves have been the most affected areas in Blue Nile SPLM-N controlled areas by the insecurity in Ethiopia. According to CU Monitors, the border was closed, paralyzing market activities. Alternative routes were created but involve more hours than the usual cross-border routes
In Heiban County, approximately 10,000 feddans (sorghum, sesame and groundnuts) were ploughed. According to farmers, this year’s production is low due to insufficient rainfall, late seed distribution, poor farming tools and machinery, and pests. In addition, 3,000 feddans of crops were destroyed by fires in Meri and Sougli payams, Western Kadugli County. In Heiban County, food security was recorded due to the new harvest of sorghum, groundnuts, sesame, and beans.
Prices for food and non-food items remained stable in Heiban while, in Um Durain, sorghum prices increased due to a poor harvest there. Also due to poor harvest, emergency food, and non-food items distribution to poor households (1,000), returnees and fire victims was conducted in Dallami County. Each household received (1 bag of maize, 3 liters of oil, 5 gm of oil, 5 kg of beans). 350 households affected by fire received (2 plastic sheets, 2 blankets, 4 saucepans, 4 cups, 2 spoons, and 12.5 bars of soap) each. Despite the ongoing harvest in Thobo A & B, food prices remained high in all the monitored markets (Thobo, Dollea, and Tollabi) compared to last month. For example, a malaw of sorghum increased from 1.2 dollars to 1.4 in November and groundnuts from $1.2 to $1.6, making it difficult for poor households to purchase. On the other hand, in Western Kadugli, sorghum, the staple, was not available in the market. In addition, 40 households lost their harvest to fires and are now in dire need of food.
Local feddans cultivated by communities in Dilling and Lagwa counties are 22,000. However, farmers encountered challenges, such as destruction by livestock and fire breakouts. Additionally, the rise in fuel prices remains the biggest challenge for farmers to transport farm produce to granaries. According to household interviews, despite the losses, food security has improved across all the counties due to harvests from both near farms (Jibraka) and far farms; hence, food items were also available in the markets, improving purchasing power after opening the seaport. Most households' consumption increased to 4 meals a day compared to previous months, where households ate approximately 1-2 meals a day or none. The meals portion size had also significantly increased.