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Sudan’s sorghum production one third less than last year

March 7 - 2020 KHARTOUM
A variety of sorghum, locally known as feterita, which is mainly eaten in Darfur (File photo)
A variety of sorghum, locally known as feterita, which is mainly eaten in Darfur (File photo)

According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ food supply assessment for Sudan, the national total production of sorghum and millet in 2019/20 is estimated at 5.1 million tonnes, which is 36 per cent below the previous year’s record output, and 18 per cent less than the past five-year average.

This could have serious effect on the food security in the country, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Sudan states in its latest Situation Report.

An estimated 5.8 million people (14 per cent of the total population) are experiencing Crisis or worse levels of food insecurity, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification. Around one million people are facing emergency levels of acute food insecurity, and around 4.8 million people are in Crisis Phase, while nearly 11.8 million are estimated to be in Stress Phase.

Overall, 162 localities from 17 states have been classified out of the 18 Sudanese states.

The food supply assessment was carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture, with assistance from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other partners, between 24 November and 14 December last year, to determine the situation of crop production and food supply in all 18 states of the country.

Shifting of crops, fuel shortages

The decline in production can be attributed to farmers shifting crop production to more remunerative cash crops, such as sesame and groundnuts, compounded by lower yields resulting from unfavourable weather conditions and pest infestation.

Constraints on the availability of, and accessibility to agricultural inputs were reported as a result of high and increasing inflation, which also led to soaring costs of production.

Despite the government’s efforts to meet the needs of the agricultural sector, fuel shortages and delays in fuel deliveries were reported in several parts of the country.

A mid-season assessment by the ministry showed that the amount of fuel supplied in 2019 for land preparation, planting and weeding was 36 per cent of the total requirements, while it was 52 per cent in 2018. Farmers were forced to purchase fuel from the parallel market, paying three to four times the official price. This resulted in an overall increase in production costs.

Summer season

The incidence of pests, diseases, and weeds in the 2019 summer cropping season were significantly higher than in the previous years and affected production.

Abnormal weather events weakened crops, while the overall more humid environment—due to the long rainy season—favoured the proliferation of weeds and pests at the final stages of crop growth, during grain development and filling.

Rat infestations were reported at significant levels in Kassala, Blue Nile state, West Kordofan, South Kordofan, White Nile state and Darfur.

The early onset of summer rains in May improved soil moisture and vegetation growth, stimulating rodent reproduction. During the prolonged dry spell of July, enlarged populations caused serious damage to crops during planting.

In addition, despite continuous monitoring and control measures put in place by the Sudan’s Plant Protection Division, numerous attacks by birds were reported in important crop production areas.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), an estimated 30 per cent of all crops harvested in Sudan is lost due to traditional storage.

OCHA reported in its SitRep of February 27 that the prices of locally grown sorghum and millet increased in December and January.

 


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