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Above-average 2016 grain production expected in Sudan

December 4 - 2016 KHARTOUM
Sorghum (file photo)
Sorghum (file photo)

Crop production is expected to be at above-average levels in Sudan, as the 2016 rainy season has generally been favourable, says the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

By the end of the year, the sorghum and millet harvesting will be completed. The rainy season started on time in June, and above-average rains continued until mid-October, favouring crop development, FAO states in its latest Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS) update for Sudan.

However, some dry spells in September affected crops in South Kordofan and North Darfur states. Some crop losses were caused by localised flooding in El Gezira, Blue Nile, El Gedaref, Kassala, Sennar, and White Nile states owing to torrential rains between June and August. Outbreaks of locust and migratory birds were reported in parts of South and East Darfur and West and North Kordofan, but crop losses as a result of this are minimal as local authorities undertook appropriate control measures, FAO reported.

Since October, food security conditions have started to improve as newly harvested crops became available for local consumption, according to the GIEWS report.

The demand for agricultural labour is likely to increase as well because of the expected above-average production, in turn increasing local wage rates.

Food insecure

Despite this improved food security, about 3.6 million people in Sudan are estimated to be severely food insecure (Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) levels 3 and above).

According to the results of the latest IPC analysis running between October and December this year, this includes displaced people and refugees in Darfur and South Kordofan. High levels of food insecurity are also reported among most vulnerable households in North Kordofan and eastern Sudan’s Kassala and Red Sea states.

Grain prices decline

With the start of the 2016 rainy season harvest, prices of locally produced sorghum and millet -the main staple grains- began to decrease recently in most monitored markets. Prices of sorghum declined in October by about 12 per cent in the capital Khartoum, and in the key-producing area of eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref. Prices of millet -mainly grown and consumed in western regions- decreased in the North Darfur capital of El Fasher by seven per cent between August and October.

However, despite the recent declines, prices of sorghum and millet in October remained well above earlier levels this year in several markets, reflecting tight domestic availabilities following the 2015 drought-reduced harvest.

According to FAO, the 2016 estimated sorghum production is 59 per cent higher than the 2011-2015 average. As for millet, the ratio is 57 per cent higher. The wheat harvest is 17 per cent lower compared to the 2011-2015 average.

Sorghum, millet, and wheat are the main staple foods in Sudan. Sorghum is the staple food for most people living in Sudan. Millet is the preferred staple food in Darfur. In the areas north of Khartoum wheat is more common.

Source: Bulletin 48 of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan

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