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- The three main staple foods in Sudan are sorghum, wheat, and millet. As a country, Sudan is structurally deficit in staple food production, although important commodity- specific and geographic differences exist. In aggregate terms, Sudan is surplus-producing in sorghum, self-sufficient in millet, and structurally deficit in wheat.
- Khartoum is the largest consumption center in Sudan, while the eastern Gedaref and Sennar States consistently produce a surplus (mostly in sorghum), which is sold elsewhere in the country and region, and regularly exported to the Gulf States. The Darfur States were once self-sufficient in grain production. Many years of conflict and civil unrest have significantly disrupted production and marketing systems in Darfur, and the populations that remain there rely heavily on imports from elsewhere in the country and on relief commodities.
- Despite many advances in agricultural production technologies (semi-mechanized and irrigated production schemes), local rainfall patterns remain a key driver in domestic food availability and prices. Rainfall patterns can vary widely from year to year (up to 30 percent from average), resulting in highly variable production and market supply patterns.
- Other factors that influence food availability and access (prices) include persistent civil unrest and conflict (particularly in Darfur and Kordofan States), the effects of longstanding economic sanctions, and macroeconomic instability most recently attributed to substantial reductions in government revenues from decreased oil sales. Oil revenues are a main source of hard currency through which the Sudanese government makes purchases of essential goods for its population. The presence of economic sanctions makes it increasingly difficult for businesses engaged in sectors that are not directly affected (food and agricultural inputs) to carry out their activities.
- The wheat marketing system is structured much differently than that of local cereals and includes two main channels. The first is imported wheat, which accounts for 75-85 percent of wheat supply; the second is local production, which accounts for 15-25 percent of wheat supply). Imported wheat marketing involves strong linkages between three large milling firms and the Government of Sudan (GoS).
- A decade of civil unrest and conflict have left the Darfur States relatively more isolated from the national staple food marketing system. Local production and marketing systems have been significantly affected, resulting in major food deficits that are not always met through commercial trade flows.
- Food aid (in-kind) appears to have had positive impacts on markets by assuring food supplies during years of production shortfalls and periods of severe crisis. Recent anecdotal evidence indicates that the use of cash transfers and vouchers in 2013/14 (a very poor production year) may have aggravated food price increases and variability in the Darfur States.
- Additional research is needed to understand the impacts of cash transfers and vouchers on markets and prices during years of good versus poor national grain production. This will help inform the design of such programs in future years, when both local and national production are significantly below average. Additional research is likewise needed to understand the importance of livestock consumption in total grain demand. This will help improve the parameters used to estimate the annual national grain surplus, and hence external grain needs.
Source: FEWS NET