Special report: FAO/WFP crop and food supply assessment mission to Sudan

Mission Highlights

  • Cereal production in 2002 is forecast at 3.8 million tonnes, about 30 percent and 15 percent down on last year and the average for the preceding five years respectively.

  • Late and poor distribution of rainfall coupled with reduced cultivated area in the irrigated sector, compared to last year, accounted for the decline in production.

  • Cereal import requirement, mainly wheat, for 2002/03 (November/October) is forecast at about 1.3 million tonnes, of which nearly 1.1 million tonnes are anticipated to be imported commercially.

  • Livestock and pasture conditions are generally stable in most parts of the country and the lifting of the ban on imports of livestock from Sudan by several countries in the Arabian Peninsula is expected to boost pastoralist incomes.

  • Food assistance, estimated at about 230 000 tonnes, is needed for about 3.5 million people including war displaced, drought affected and vulnerable people, mainly in southern Sudan and Nuba mountains, as well as parts of western and eastern Sudan.

  • Urgent assistance is also needed with seeds and other agricultural inputs for the affected population in advance of the next cropping season that starts in April/May in the South and June/July in the north.


An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited southern Sudan from 6 to 29 October 2002 and northern Sudan from 10 November to 1 December 2002 to assess the current season's cereal production, forecast wheat production from areas prepared for planting, and estimate cereal import requirements for the marketing year 2002/03 (November/October). The Mission visited 24 of the country's 26 states both in Government and rebel held areas.

The Mission received full co-operation of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC), which assigned senior staff to accompany the Mission. Pre-harvest data on area and yield were provided by the State Ministries of Agriculture and the various irrigation schemes, which the mission cross-checked during field visits and farmer and trader interviews. Discussions were also held with key informants from local government administrations, UN agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

In southern Sudan, rebel held areas (southern sector) were visited from Kenya and cropping data were provided by the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Agency (SRRA) Agriculture Co-ordinator, with additional information from FAO Emergency Unit, WFP staff and USAID-FEWS reports. Location specific information was provided by Norwegian People's Aid (NPA), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Save the Children UK (SC/UK), Action Contre la Faim (ACF), Concern, Oxfam UK, ANV, Tear-Fund and VSF-Holland. In Government held areas (northern sector), data were provided by State Ministries of Agriculture and HAC early warning unit, as well as FAO Emergency Unit field staff and NGOs including ACCORD, ACF, Oxfam-UK, ICRC, IIRA, Sudan Council of Churches, and Geraman Agro-Action.

For the country as a whole, the Mission found that the 2002 cropping season was characterised by a late onset of rains and poor rainfall distribution, especially during the first half of the season.

In Northern Sudan, the most important feature of the 2002 cropping season was the significant reduction in irrigated cereal area, particularly sorghum as compared to 2001. This reduction was largely an adjustment to a more average or normal level of irrigated area under cereals as opposed to the unusually large expansion in 2001 mainly in response to a Government inducement. As a result, irrigated area under cereals in 2002 declined by about 40 percent compared to 2001.

In Southern Sudan, civil conflict and insecurity have continued to hamper agricultural activities. Despite adequate and timely seed supplies for settled farmers and IDPs and a year relatively free from migratory pests, escalation of the civil war in several parts during the 2002 cropping season, cattle raiding and reprisals, and inter-ethnic conflicts have reduced cultivated area by nearly 10 percent, mostly in Bahr el Jebel and East Equatoria. This, coupled with late and erratic rains in most parts, has resulted in a decline of about 20 percent in cereal production as compared to last year.

Overall, the Mission forecasts 2002/03 total cereal production in Sudan at about 3.79 million tonnes, comprising 2.80 million tonnes of sorghum, 618 000 tonnes of millet, 232 000 tonnes of wheat (to be harvested in April/May 2003), and 138 000 tonnes of other cereals (mainly maize and rice). At this level, cereal production is nearly 30 percent below last year's good crop and about 15 percent below the average of the last five years. As a result, the cereal import requirement in the 2002/03 (November/October) marketing year is estimated at nearly 1.3 million tonnes of which about 1.1 million tonnes are anticipated to be imported commercially.

Increased export earnings from oil in the last five years and the recent resumption of livestock exports to countries in the Arabian Peninsula, mainly Saudi Arabia, following the lifting of an import ban on account of Rift Valley Fever, have all resulted in favourable outlook for the economy at both macro and micro-levels. Furthermore, the recent peace talks in Machakos (Kenya) to end the long running civil war in Sudan, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on 15 October 2002, augur well for resolving the conflict peacefully and this would boost agricultural and other economic activities in southern Sudan.

Livestock in northern Sudan are generally in good condition. Poor rangeland productivity in some western and eastern parts is expected to result in some feed shortages. However, the resumption of livestock exports has already firmed-up prices and tilted the terms of trade in favour of livestock producers.

While the overall food situation is relatively stable, regional and local deficits exist in several parts. Most zones in southern Sudan face serious food deficits mainly due to population displacement and poor harvests. The few expected cereal surpluses in the states of West Equatoria and Lakes will be unavailable in deficit areas, within and outside the States, due to market segmentation and the break down of normal trade routes and infrastructure. In northern Sudan, parts of greater Kordofan and Darfur and Red Sea State also suffer from successive poor harvests. Food aid needs in 2003 are estimated at 230 000 tonnes.

Furthermore, timely assistance is required to support the agricultural sector in the next cropping season that starts in April/May in the South and June/July in the North. The emergency support should include early provision of appropriate seeds and other agricultural inputs.

(html format - 241 KB)