FEWS NET predicts food insecurity in Sudan

Washington DC
March 25, 2018 (Radio Dabanga)

Poor rainfall and high food prices will lead to food insecurity through September, says the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET).

According to the latest FEWS NET Food Security Outlook report, food security levels are expected to reach emergency levels among displaced people living in areas controlled by the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N) in South Kordofan between June and September.

People in parts of Kassala and North Darfur, which were affected by poor rains in 2017, and displaced in some parts of Darfur’s Jebel Marra —where aid organizations are unable to access—will face crisis levels of food security through September, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan quotes FEWS NET in its latest biweekly bulletin.

Overall, most parts of the country will likely remain in minimal or stressed levels of food security between February and September this year, following above-average 2017-18 harvests.

The joint Annual Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission released in February 2018 estimates Sudan’s national 2017-18 cereal production at approximately 5.2 million metric tons. This is approximately 10 per cent higher than the recent five-year average, but nearly 40 per cent lower than above-average 2016-17 harvest.

Very poor seasonal rains in northern Kassala, northern El Gedaref, and parts of North Darfur and North Kordofan have led to a sharply reduced local crop production and regeneration of pastoral lands, FEWS NET states.

The Network as well points to the lifting of wheat subsidies and devaluation of the Sudanese currency in early January that led to significant price increases for key food and non-food items.

Prices for key staple foods, such as locally produced sorghum and imported wheat, increased on average by 35 percent between December and January. According to the Sudan’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS), inflation in Sudan increased sharply from 25 percent in December to 52 percent in January.

Wheat subsidies lifted

Earlier this month however, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported in its Food Price Monitoring Bulletin that prices of wheat, sorghum, and millet, the main staples in Sudan, rose sharply for the third consecutive month in January.

The increase in prices was driven by the removal of wheat subsidies under the new budget of 2018, which increased the demand for millet and sorghum as substitutes for wheat, the food agency stated. The strong depreciation of the local currency in the parallel forex market was another cause.

FAO warned that substantial crop production shortfalls in a number of areas will contribute to further cereal price increases.


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