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Atypically high staple food prices continue through the harvest season

  • Key Message Update
  • Sudan
  • January 2022
Atypically high staple food prices continue through the harvest season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • As of mid-January 2022, the 2021/22 harvest is ongoing in the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors of Sudan and is close to complete in the traditional rain-fed sectors. The cash crops harvest is complete across most sectors, with the harvest of millet and sorghum still ongoing in the semi-mechanized and irrigated central and eastern Sudan sectors. However, the outbreak of conflict and displacement in parts of Darfur and Kordofan regions, shortages and the high cost of labor, transportation, and harvesting inputs is delaying the harvest, particularly in the semi-mechanized and irrigated sectors. According to preliminary assessments, crop yields, particularly in the rain-fed sector, were affected by dry spells at critical growth stages, and losses from livestock and pest infestations. Overall, the harvest is expected to be lower than last year and near the five-year average. 

    • The November 2021 to March 2022 winter wheat season is ongoing across the main wheat-producing areas of central and northern Sudan. However, planting has been negatively impacted by shortages and the high cost of agricultural inputs and labor the poor maintenance of irrigation channels, and high electricity costs for pump irrigation. Agricultural wages in December 2021 are over 300 percent higher than 2020, which is limiting the ability of farmers to hire enough labor. The closure of the borders with Ethiopia and increased engagement by local laborers in gold mining is limiting available agricultural labor and increasing agricultural labor wages. Overall, the area cultivated is expected to be lower than last year and the five-year average.

    • Sudan’s macroeconomic situation is deteriorating following the removal of the civilian-led government in October 2021. The suspension of over 2.7 billion USD in economic support from the international community, low foreign exchange reserves, limited economic activity, and continued political instability likely resulted in the depreciation of the SDG in the parallel market from 450 SDG/USD in December 2021 to 490 SDG/USD by the third week of January 2022. The persistent lack of access to sustainable hard currency streams is likely to result in the SDG further depreciating. The increases in food and transportation prices (50-100 percent greater than last year), and the cost of the local food basket (over 120 percent greater than last year), are negatively impacting the purchasing power of poor households.

    • By mid-January 2022, staple food prices continued increasing atypically in most markets while remaining stable or slightly decreasing in other markets. Staple food prices are approximately 100-200 percent higher than last year and three to four times greater than the five-year average. The high cereal prices are being driven by the lower-than-expected harvests, the continued high production and transportation costs, and the depreciation of the SDG. Cereal prices typically stabilize by February following the completion of the harvest but are likely to begin increasing in April-earlier than normal- due to drivers mentioned earlier. Livestock prices have slightly decreased but remain almost 200 percent above prices last year and almost five times above the five-year average. Low local demand for meat due to reduced household purchasing power, and increased supply from pastoral households are driving the slight decrease in livestock prices. Overall, the high food prices are negatively impacting food access, particularly for poor pastoral and urban poor households. 

    • As of January 30, 2022,  Sudan has recorded over 57,100 cases of COVID-19 since March 2020, with around 29 percent of cases being confirmed since November 1, 2021. Around 75 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases are in Khartoum state, with Blue Nile state, Red Sea, Northern, River Nile, and White Nile states also recording cases. There are no restrictions on social gatherings,  movement, or trade in Sudan; however, the rise in confirmed cases is reducing income-earning opportunities for poor households engaged in casual labor as better-off households limit employment opportunities to reduce their risk of exposure. As of January 25, 2022, just over 3 million people in Sudan have received at least one vaccine dose, around 7 percent of the population. 

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level 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. Learn more here.

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