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Most areas of Sudan will likely remain in Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity between February and September 2017, thanks to above-average harvests, normal access to seasonal agricultural labor and near-normal purchasing power. However, parts of South Kordofan and Darfur’s Jebel Marra are in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and will likely deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) as newly displaced people missed the cultivation season, insecurity has disrupted trade, and staple food prices remain higher than normal.
Based on preliminary results from the joint Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoA&F) and FAO, national 2016/17 cereal production is estimated at nearly 8 million MT. This represents an increase of more than 70 percent compared to the recent five-year average and more than double the El Niño-affected 2015/16 season. However, erratic rainfall and resulting dry spells led to locally below-average production, particularly in parts of South Kordofan and North Darfur states.
In January 2017, the U.S. government partially lifted the 20-year-old economic sanctions against Sudan, based in part on improved security conditions in conflict-affected states of Sudan and relative improvements in humanitarian access. Nevertheless, humanitarian access in SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile states remains limited.
Unilateral ceasefires declared by the Government of Sudan and armed opposition groups have reduced conflict and population displacements in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and the Darfur states. However, conflict and severe food insecurity in South Sudan has caused substantial influxes of refugees into Sudan, including the arrival of 32,000 new refugees since the beginning of 2017.
Preliminary results of the recent joint Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM), led by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MoA&F) and FAO, estimate national 2016/17 cereal production at approximately 8 million metric tons. This is more than 70 percent higher than the recent five-year average and more than double the El Niño-affected 2015/16 season (Figure 1). Above-average June to October 2016 rainfall encouraged farmers to cultivate above-average areas of crops in both semi-mechanized and traditional rainfed sectors. Yields of sorghum and millet in these sectors, which produce over 80 percent of total cereal production in Sudan, were also higher than normal. The forecast for irrigated wheat to be harvested in March 2017 is largely favorable with an estimated 0.48 million MT, which is similar to production in 2015/16 and 20 – 25 percent higher than the recent five-year average.
Despite overall above-average rainfall performance and resultant increased cereal production nationally, erratic distribution of rainfall and dry spells during critical growth periods in parts of South Kordofan, North Kordofan, West Kordofan, North Darfur, East Darfur, and West Darfur states have led to localized below-average production.
Based on the preliminary results of the CFSAM, the national food balance sheet of 2016/17 projected domestic production of sorghum at about 1.5 million tonnes above domestic requirements, and production of millet at approximately 500,000 tonnes above domestic requirements. Most of the surplus sorghum and millet will be held by the Strategic Reserve Corporation (SRC), commercial farmers, traders and households. Despite substantial closing stocks, the estimated 0.5 million tonnes of domestic wheat production only covers about 20 percent of the annual domestic wheat consumption. Thus, the food balance sheet of Sudan estimates wheat import needs at approximately 2.3 million tonnes. In addition, rice import needs are estimated at approximately 61,000 MT for the 2016/17 food consumption year.
Favorable climatic conditions during 2016 resulted in above-average production of cash crops. National sesame production in 2016/17 in the traditional rainfed sector is 56 percent higher than last year, and 23 percent higher than last year in the semi-mechanized rainfed sector. Groundnut production in the irrigated sector declined by 23 percent compared to last year, as producers shifted to pigeon pea cultivation in order to take advantage of high prices of pigeon pea due to high demand for export to India.
Agricultural production costs increased substantially in 2016, as depreciation of the local currency drove price increases for agricultural inputs. Recent austerity measures related to the withdrawal of fuel subsidies also contributed to the inflationary trend of agricultural inputs. Labor costs have also increased by about 30 to 40 percent compared to last year, which is due in part to the increased demand for agricultural labor driven by above-average production. A number of farmers in the semi-mechanized sector of eastern and central Sudan reported selling their standing sorghum crops to cattle herders rather than harvesting, due to high labor and bagging costs, and low sorghum prices.
Sorghum and millet prices continued to decline seasonally or remained stable between December 2016 and January 2017, as new harvests reached the market. Consumer demand also declined, as many agricultural households are consuming cereals from their own harvests. Retail sorghum prices decreased between seven and 20 percent between December 2016 and January 2017, in the main production and collection markets of Al Gadaref, Kosti, and Al Obeid markets, and remained stable in most other consumption markets. Retail millet prices remained stable in most western Sudan markets during the same time period. Current sorghum and millet prices were in general 10-15 percent higher than in January 2016 and 40-45 percent higher than the five-year average.
Retail wheat prices increased seasonably (by five to 15 percent) in most production and consumption markets of northern and central Sudan between December 2016 and January 2017, due to typical seasonal declines in wheat stocks prior to harvests beginning in March 2017. Current wheat prices are approximately 20 percent higher than in January 2016 and 20-75 percent higher than the recent five-year average.
Livestock prices have slightly increased or remained stable over the past few months as livestock sales have declined. Favorable conditions in 2016 contributed to improved access to water and pasture following very poor regeneration of pastoral resources associated with El Niño-related dryness in 2015. In Kassala market, one of the drought-prone areas of eastern Sudan, goat prices increased by 15 percent between December 2016 and January 2017 and are currently 48 percent higher than in January 2016, and 58 percent higher than the recent two-year average.
Terms of trade (ToT) between wage labor and sorghum has continued to increase seasonally between November 2016 and January 2017 due to high demand for seasonal agricultural labor and seasonal declines in sorghum prices. In Al Gadaref market, ToT between daily wage labor and sorghum increased by 10 percent from 38 kg per day of wage labor in December 2016 to 42 kg per day of wage labor in January 2017, which is 70 percent higher than in January 2016, and 60 percent higher than the recent two-year average.
Terms of trade between livestock and staple foods increased in favor of livestock holders between November and January in most markets monitored by FEWS NET due to increasing livestock prices and seasonal declines in staple food prices. In Kassala market, ToT between goats and sorghum increased by 11 percent from 175 kg of sorghum per goat in December 2016 to 195 kg of sorghum per goat in January 2017. Current TOT between sorghum and goats is 60 percent higher than in January 2016, and 46 percent higher than the recent two-year average.
South Sudanese refugees entering neighboring states in Sudan continues as armed conflict between rivals in South Sudan continues and acute food insecurity remains severe. Since December 2013, more than 314,000 refugees from South Sudan have arrived in Sudan, including approximately 32,000 refugees since the beginning of 2017, according to UNHCR. The most recent arrivals were reported in White Nile, West Kodofan, East Darfur, South Darfur, and South Kordofan states from Unity, Upper Nile, and Northern Bahr el Gahzal states.
The Government of Sudan declared a unilateral six-month ceasefire in January 2017, while the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement – North (SPLM-N), Sudan Liberation Army – Mini Minawi (SLA-MM) and the Justice and Equity Movement (JEM) jointly declared a six-month ceasefire in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and Darfur, respectivly last October. Since then, insecurity in conflict-affected areas of Darfur, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile states has decreased slightly. Conflict in these areas normally increases at the beginning of the dry season each year in December/January, when road access and mobility improve. Reduced conflict in these areas has resulted in fewer than usual new displacements compared to the same period during the most recent conflict-affected years. Improved security conditions have also encouraged IDPs to return in some parts of West Darfur and North Darfur states and refugees from Chad to Um Dokhon locality (Central Darfur) Beida locality (West Darfur) and Um Baru locality (North Darfur).
In January 2017, the government of the United States of America declared a partial lifting of economic sanctions against Sudan. Since then, the value of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) against the U.S. Dollar (USD) has improved from 19.4 SDG/1 USD to 16-17 SDG/1 USD on the parallel market. This is mainly due to expectations of increased flows of foreign currencies from investors and the release of the frozen accounts of the government in foreign banks. Despite improved value of the local currency, inflation continued to rise from a monthly rate of 29.49 percent in November to 30.47 percent in December 2016.
From January to December 2016, WFP Sudan planned to assist 4.6 million food-insecure people, 3.9 million of whom reside in Darfur. WFP reached 4 million people or 87 percent of the targeted food-insecure population in Sudan. In December 2016, WFP Sudan assisted 1.2 million people with general food assistance, and 63,409 children under-five years old and 21,136 pregnant and nursing women with nutrition assistance.
The most likely scenario for the February to September 2017 period is based on the following national assumptions:
- As of mid-February, field reports indicated sorghum harvests are still ongoing in the semi-mechanized sector in surplus-producing areas in central and eastern Sudan. Based on estimates of well above-average production, FEWS NET assumes the 2016/17 harvest season is likely to be extended by two to three months. As a result, households food stocks and access to income from seasonal agricultural labor is likely to be extended beyond average time periods.
- Based on preliminary international seasonal forecasts (NMME, IRI, ECMWF), FEWS NET expects cumulative rainfall between June and September 2017 to be slightly below average. While the February CPC/IRI consensus forecast indicates a higher likelihood of El Niño in the third quarter of 2017, there is currently significant uncertainty in the ENSO forecast. As El Niño is generally associated with a suppression of seasonal rainfall over eastern Sudan during this time, FEWS NET will continue to monitor the situation. Seasonal forecasts from the Sudan Meteorological Authority and the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) are also expected in the near future and FEWS NET will continue to update its most-likely scenario as needed.
- Prices of sorghum, the main staple, are expected to follow typical, modest downward trends or remain at current levels between January and April due to above-average market supplies and below-average demand for local consumption, as illustrated by FEWS NET’s price projection for Gadaref market (Figure 2). Between June and August, sorghum prices are likely to begin increasing seasonally, but remain below last year’s levels. Nevertheless, prices will remain near or slightly above the recent four-year average, in part due to increased production costs and increased storage and marketing costs. Prices of millet, the main staple food in western Sudan, are also expected to decrease slightly or remain stable through about April and then increase seasonally between May and September, but will remain lower than in 2015/16 and higher than the recent two-year average.
- Due to favorable 2016 rainfall, livestock body conditions and herd sizes have returned to normal in most pastoral and agropastoral areas following the dryness associated with El Niño in 2015. Thus, FEWS NET assumes livestock prices will remain above average during the scenario period, and income from the sale of livestock will remain at near-normal levels.
- Terms of trade between livestock (goats) and cereals, and between labor and cereals, are likely to remain higher than normal as livestock and labor prices remain above average, and cereal prices remain at or near-average levels between February and September 2017.
- External financial resource flows into Sudan are likely to increase during the scenario period, following the partial lifting of international sanctions against Sudan, which should allow trade and investment to improve. As a result, the value of the Sudanese Pound (SDG) is likely to improve against major foreign currencies, perhaps curbing the prevailing high inflation rate and increasing the flow of foreign resources via official channels.
- Increases in flows of foreign currency via trade should lead to modest improvements in the persistant shortage of foreign currency, although Sudan will likely continue to require injections of cash in order to maintain the ability to import wheat and wheat flour at normal levels. Thus, wheat and wheat flour prices are likely to remain high or further increase during the scenario period. However, the onset of domestic wheat harvests – expected to be up to 20 percent above average – in March/April are likely to improve market supplies of wheat, which accounts for two to three months of the national domestic wheat consumption in Sudan.
- The declared unilateral ceasefire and lifting of economic sanctions based on improved security conditions in conflict-affected areas of Sudan will continue to reduce hostilities and incursions in these areas. Therefore, the number of new displacement in these areas during the scenario period will be lower than last year. FEWS NET assumes new displacements will total less than 5,000 in Blue Nile, less than 10,000 in South Kordofan, and less than 20,000 in the Darfur states between February and September 2017.
- Insecurity, instability, and severe acute food insecurity in neighboring Unity and Upper Nile states of South Sudan are likely to result in increased numbers of refugees in Sudan between February and September 2017. FEWS NET believes more than 100,000 South Sudanese refugees will arrive in Sudan during the course of year 2017. FEWS NET also assume these conditions are likely to act as a push factor for Sudanese refugees in South Sudan to return to Sudan. FEWS NET assumes the number of Sudanese refugees likely to return from refugee camps in Unity and Upper Nile states in South Sudan to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states will be higher during the same period in 2016.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
The scenario period from February through September 2017, comprises the harvest and post-harvest period, prior to the peak of the lean season from June to September 2017. Ongoing harvests are improving access to food from own harvests and through market purchase, while milk production has already improved and is likely to be maintained during the first half of the scenario period. Improved purchasing power is likely to be maintained due to seasonal declines in staple food prices and above-average income from main sources of income. Levels of acute malnutrition are likely to improve in most parts of the country during the February to April harvest period due to increased food access as a result of 2016/17’s above-average harvest, low staple food prices, and improved purchasing power. Access to milk, which is an essential source of nutrients, is at its seasonal peak due to abundant pasture and water generated by the good rains of last year and is likely to contribute to improvements in nutrition. Nevertheless, cases of waterborne diseases especially diarrhea are expected to increase during June to September rainy season and this will aggravate acute malnutrition but not beyond typical Serious (GAM 10-15%, WHO classification standards) levels in this season. FEWS NET assumes, at the national level, acute malnutrition prevalence is projected to remain Serious (GAM 10-15%) for the period February-September 2017, but Critical levels (GAM >15%) are expected to persist in vulnerable states (e.g. Blue Nile, Central Darfur, North Darfur, Kassala, Red Sea and South Kordofan). Most households in rural areas that have access to cultivation are likely to face Minimal (IPC Phase 1) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity through at least September 2017.
However, new IDPs, returnees, and refugees in Jebel Marra, South Kordofan, and Blue Nile who had no/limited access to land and missed the cultivation season will not have access to food from own harvests, or income from the sale of staple and cash crops, and have limited asset bases from which to produce supplemental income. The main income-earning opportunities for these households so far during the consumption year has been seasonal agricultural labor on the farms of their host communities during the November to January harvest period. Movement restrictions for IDPs in some parts of Blue Nile and South Kordofan States is likely to reduce access to seasonal agricultural labor. Moreover, particularly in South Kordofan, seasonal progress was poor in localized areas, leading to significant crop losses even among resident households. Parts of Jebel Marra and some SPLM-N-controlled areas of South Kordofan will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) from February to May, and without humanitarian assistance, food security will deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the peak of the lean season between June and September 2017.
For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.
Current food security outcomes, February 2017
Source: FEWS NET
Seasonal Calendar in a Typical Year
Source: FEWS NET
Figure 1. National cereal production (MT), by sector, 2016/17 vs. last year and five-year average
Source: CFSAM 2016/17
Figure 2. Integrated nominal price projection, retail sorghum, (SDG/kg), Gadaref market
Source: FEWS NET/FAMIS
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.