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Flour and cooking gas shortages in Sudan continue

February 7 - 2016 KHARTOUM / WAD MADANI / SENNAR
People queuing in front of a bread distribution centre in Khartoum (Abbas Izzat)
People queuing in front of a bread distribution centre in Khartoum (Abbas Izzat)

Sudanese in various parts of the country are still suffering from a shortage of flour and cooking gas. They also complain about sky-rocketing prices of essential commodities.

Housewife Zahra Mohamed told Radio Dabanga from Khartoum that the price of an LPG cylinder reached SDG95 ($16). She also condemned the soaring transportation tariffs because of the rise of fuel prices.

In most districts of the capital of El Gezira state, people are queueing for hours to obtain some pieces of bread, an angry listener reported from Wad Madani.

A resident of Sennar in eastern Sudan told Radio Dabanga on Friday that most bakeries are closed because of the scarcity of flour. “A number of schools sent the children home earlier than usual last week because they are too hungry to learn something.”

He added that most of the people cannot afford to buy cooking gas any more. “We now pay around SDG90 ($15) for an LPG cylinder if available. The security apparatus that distributes the flour to the bakeries have decreased the ration from 50 [100 kg] sacks to seven sacks per bakery.”

“A number of schools sent the children home earlier than usual last week because they are too hungry to learn something.”

The Sudanese Bakers Union said in a press statement on 25 January that the bakeries' rations decreased from 10 to 12 sacks a day to four sacks.

The two main flour mills now are the Seen Flour Mills and the recently opened Gena Flour Mills. Both are are state-owned companies. According to the independent electronic newspaper Hurriyat Seen company is owned by the National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

Price increases

On 25 January, the Sudanese government announced a rise of fuel prices, including a threefold increase in the price of cooking gas, raising it from SDG25 to SDG75 ($12.25). In anticipation of the measure, vendors raised the prices of cooking gas and other basic commodities weeks in advance.

Radio Dabanga reported on 10 January that many people in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, reduced their two daily meals to one meal.

“An average family will have to spend about SDG100 ($16.35) per day to cover three daily meals, while the monthly salary of most of the people monthly lies between SDG500-SDG1,000,” a housewife complained. “We pay SDG1 ($0.17) for one piece of bread, while last year we received three to four pieces for one Sudanese Pound.”

Dollar rates

In 2015, bakeries in Khartoum and a number of other Sudanese states also experienced a shortage of flour, after the Sudanese milling companies reduced the daily flour quotas in March.

The private Saiga Flour Mills, that used to be Sudan’s major flour supplier, shut down its mills in mid-July last year, reportedly after a dispute with the government about the dollar rate set for wheat imports. The much higher US dollar rate on the black market was causing major losses to the flour mills.

Sudan annually imports more than two million tons of wheat at a cost of $1.5 billion. The flour crisis has been attributed to the scarcity of foreign currency needed for the import of wheat.

The hard currency rate on the black market in Sudan began to grow in 2010. In September that year, the Central Bank of Sudan announced that the lack of hard currency was becoming acute. The secession of South Sudan in July 2011, with which Sudan lost two-thirds of its oil revenues, an important source of hard currency, exacerbated the crisis.


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