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High staple food prices and market shortages at the start of the lean season

  • Key Message Update
  • Sudan
  • May 2022
High staple food prices and market shortages at the start of the lean season

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • With the start of the lean season, IDPs, conflict-affected households, and very poor pastoral and agropastoral households in South Kordofan, Darfur, Blue Nile, Kassala, Red Sea states, and North Kordofan have likely exhausted their food stocks and are market dependent. Additionally, above-average staple food prices, high inflation, and the depreciation of the SDG are negatively impacting household purchasing power. To cope, household members are migrating for better labor opportunities such as gold mining, working as a herder for better-off households, spending their savings, and reducing non-food expenditures. However, with the start of the June-September rainy season, increased agricultural labor opportunities will likely improve household access to income and in-kind payments. 

    • Based on the NMME, WMO, and C3S forecasts, the June to September main rainfall season in Sudan is expected to be above average. Based on current atypical river water levels, current atypical flood extent, and past occurrences, there is an increased likelihood of a one-in-20-year flood occurring near major river basins in northern and eastern South Sudan and Sudan. There is a high likelihood of above-average streamflow in the upper reaches of the White Nile in South Sudan, the Nile in Sudan, and the Blue Nile, especially in July and August. Flooding is likely to destroy infrastructure, reduce market supplies to affected areas, reduce access to food and income-earning opportunities, and increase the incidence of waterborne diseases. In agricultural areas, flooding and waterlogging are likely to result in crop losses and reduce agricultural labor opportunities.   

    • Sorghum and millet prices increased 15-20 percent across most markets between April and May, driven by reduced market supplies and above-average demand. In May 2022, the start of the lean season, sorghum's national average retail price is 252 SDG/kg, compared to 225 SDG/kg in April and 171 SDG/kg in March. Similarly, millet prices increased 10-20 percent in most millet production and consumption markets between April and May 2022, retailing on average at 555 SDG/kg in May compared to 515 SDG/kg in April and 410 SDG/kg in March. The atypically large increase in staple food prices is continuing to reduce household purchasing power as sorghum and millet prices are on average 150-250 percent higher than their respective prices in 2021 and over 550-650 percent above the five-year average.

    • Despite the recently concluded winter season harvest, locally produced wheat prices remained relatively stable. In May, locally produced wheat prices are trading at around 563 SDG/kg, around 200-250 percent above respective prices last year and five to seven times above the five-year average. Given Sudan's reliance on wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine to meet domestic demand, particularly in urban areas, the rising global wheat prices and limited access to hard currency to pay for imports is expected to keep bread prices high, limiting household purchasing power and increasing demand for sorghum and millet. Sudan is likely to continue attempting to import wheat from international markets; however, limited access to hard currency will likely limit Sudan’s ability to import enough wheat to meet national demand.    

    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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