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Harvests to improve access to food in the coming months

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • Sudan
  • September 2014
Harvests to improve access to food in the coming months

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected outlook through December 2014
  • Key Messages
    • Despite earlier national and regional forecasts for average to below-average rainfall in Sudan, above-average rains continued across most of the country in September. This has enabled crop development and replenished pasture and water resources for livestock.

    • Above-average rainfall has enabled crop development and replenished pasture and water resources for livestock in most of the country.  Preliminary findings from a joint mid-season assessment to traditionally high production zones in eastern, central, and parts of western Sudan, suggest favorable rains this season encouraged farmers to expand cultivation and area planted for staple and cash crops. Average to above-average harvests are expected from October to March in most parts of Sudan. 

    • A remarkable improvement in food security is expected in the coming months due to anticipated above-average harvests, increasing access to food and income and reducing the size of the food insecure population from 5.2 million to 3.5 million people from October to November, the beginning of the harvest period.  

    Current Situation

    Despite forecasts by national and regional meteorological authorities for average to below-average June to October rains, rainfall has been average to above-average in most parts of Sudan. FEWS NET participated in a joint mid-season assessment in September with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation,  USAID, WFP, and FAO to traditionally surplus-producing areas of Gadaref, Kassala, Gazeira, Sinar, White Nile, and Blue Nile states, as well as North and West Kordofan and northern parts of South Kordofan. Preliminary findings revealed a normal onset of effective rains in July and favorable rainfall distribution, enabling the satisfactory development of crops in these areas. Vegetation conditions in September were above average in many areas of the country as indicated by the Normalized Differences Vegetation Index (NDVI) (Figure 1).  Improved rainfall performance since the beginning of August alleviated moisture deficits during the planting stage in South Darfur, North Darfur and Sinar states. Average to above-average harvests are likely in most parts of Sudan, except in Darfur, where insecurity, displacement and seed shortages caused reductions in overall area planted.

    Favorable rains and improved access to credit provided by the Agricultural Bank of Sudan (ABS) and private banks encouraged farmers to expand area planted for both staple and cash crops in surplus areas. Findings of September’s assessment suggest that total area planted in the rain fed sector—which accounts for over 85 percent of staple food production in the country—increased by 30 to 40 percent compared to last year and by 20 to 30 percent compared to the five-year average. This year’s high cereal and cash crop prices also provided additional incentives to farmers to expand area planted. By the second week of September, most crops were either at vegetative or flowering growth stages. Above-average rainfall since August has also improved pasture and water resources for livestock in seasonal grazing areas which will likely keep livestock closer to homesteads for longer, improving pastoralists’ access to milk.  

    Despite improved rainfall and crop performance in most parts of Sudan, cereal prices will likely remain above average until harvests begin in late October/early November. Retail sorghum, millet, and locally produced wheat prices increased seasonally between July and August by 19, 26, and 10 percent respectively, across most reference markets. Sorghum, millet, and local wheat prices were on average, 90, 110, and 43 percent higher than August 2013 prices respectively, and 147, 160, and 140 percent above the five-year average, respectively. Sorghum and millet prices are expected to begin a gradual decline starting in September, as early maturing crops become available and continue decreasing during the harvest period through March/April.  The ABS has fixed the in-kind repayment of loans for sorghum at 250 SDG per sack. 

    Updated Assumptions

    Assumptions made in the Sudan Food Security Outlook for July to December 2014 remain unchanged, except the following:

    The preliminary findings of the mid-season assessment revealed average to above-average rainfall in most parts of Sudan with sufficient soil moisture for crops to ripen. Based on the findings of the mid-season assessment, FEWS NET assumes average to above-average harvests of staple and cash crops in most parts of Sudan this year. 

    Projected outlook through December 2014

    Significant improvements in food security are expected in most parts of Sudan starting in late September, as green and early-maturing crops become available for consumption. Food availability and access will continue to improve during the main harvest period through March/April and cereal prices are expected to decline.  Access to income from agricultural labor and cash crop sales will also improve. The combination of increased access to food and income during the harvest period is expected to bring remarkable improvements to food security in the coming month.  As the lean season ends and harvests begin in October, the food insecure population is expected to decrease from 5.3 million to 3.5 million people. Despite these improvements, at least 20 percent of the internally displaced population in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) due to restricted access to humanitarian assistance, ongoing conflict, and reduced access to cash income from seasonal agricultural labor. Other areas of concern will improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity, including IDPs in Darfur. 

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal Calendar for a Typical Year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1.  Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) percent of normal, September 6 -15, 2014

    Figure 2

    Figure 1. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) percent of normal, September 6 -15, 2014

    Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

    Figure 3


    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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