An FAO/GIEWS Crop Assessment Mission visited Southern Sudan from 28 September to 18 October 1995, to evaluate the outcome of the 1995 crop season. Consultations were held with representatives of the relevant Federal Government and Southern States m inistries, UN Agencies, parastatal organizations, donor organizations and NGOs and extensive field trips were carried out in Equatoria, Upper Nile and Bahr El-Gazal regions.

A general improvement in the security situation brought hopes of an increase in crop production this year. Planted area in the traditional (smallholder) sector expanded as displaced persons were allocated land on a temporary basis, more land could be safely cultivated and seed availability improved as a result of distribution programmes. However, crop yields in all sectors were hit by a combination of pests, a late start to the season and unfavourable weather conditions. Production of the ma in food crops in the zone, sorghum, millet and maize, is estimated at 154 000 tons, some 6 percent down from last year. However, the late start to the season was beneficial for groundnut production: both planted area and yields increased.

This fall in crop production will aggravate what is already a precarious food situation. The 1995 crop will cover less than one-half of consumption requirements, calculated on the basis of regional historic norms. On-farm carryover stocks were foun d to be minimal in all the regions. The chances that commercial food trade will compensate for the drop in local production are slight as purchasing power is low and the weak infrastructure and long distances from supply sources make transportation costs extremely high. The harvest outcome is varied between States and within States: there may be some scope for donor financed local purchases to support food distribution programmes for internally displaced persons.


Southern Sudan comprises 10 states in three regions: Upper Nile, Equatoria and Bahr El Gazal. Before the civil war that has affected the area since 1983, it was estimated that two thirds of the population derived their living from pastoralism, supp lemented by limited cropping of sorghum and maize. The remaining third of the population were crop farmers, mainly in the Equatoria region which has a climate favourable for agriculture and better soils. In particular, the "Green Belt" in the south of Western Equatoria, along the border with Uganda, Zaire and the Central African Republica, receive higher rainfall and has great agricultural potential; in the past, all the major tropical crops have been grown in this zone.

The prolonged civil conflict has resulted in large numbers of deaths, massive displacement of population, important losses of cattle and reduced the level of agricultural activities due to insecurity and shortages of labour. The conflict has also d isrupted traditional trading patterns, closing trade routes to the north. The break-down of markets has mainly affected producers who depend on livestock sales for grain, but also those on surplus agriculture areas and the overall economy. There ha s been a general impoverishment of the population and a switch from livestock activities to subsistence agricultural production. Large sections of the population have become dependent on food aid and highly vulnerable to even small reductions in pr oduction due to natural hazards such as drought, floods or pests.


The continuous changes in population and agricultural patterns due to the prolonged conflict have resulted in a lack of accurate historical and current information on agricultural production in Southern Sudan. The Mission's estimates are based on i nformation collected at state and provincial level, on data derived from seed distribution and on extensive field inspections. Production estimates for 1994 are from the 1994 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission.

Planted Area
Land under cultivation increased in the traditional sector in the 1995 season. In Equatoria a large expansion of land area was noted around urban dwellings, including some ploughing of virgin land. This was made possible by improved security condit ions, allocation of land to displaced persons and expansion of seed distribution operations, mainly executed by FAO and UNICEF. In Bahr El-Gazal, displaced persons encamped in the environs of Wau, which accounts for a significant proportion of the Region's food production, were also able to increase land under cultivation. There are no comprehensive sources of data on planted area in the traditional sector for the current year or for historic crops. What information was available at the regi onal or state level was assessed in the light of distributed seed quantities and on farmers' perceptions. Thus, the area estimates should be treated with some caution. Nevertheless a large increase is evident, conservatively estimated at three time s the 1994 area.

In the mechanized sector there was an overall decline of 16 percent in planted area compared with 1994. The unit costs of sorghum production have increased this year by an estimated 25 percent whereas output prices remain depressed in the Renk area , where the largest farms are concentrated. The opening up of new transport routes led to a major increase in market supplies in Malakal at planting time, which may have acted as a disincentive. Malakal is an important source of local demand. Heavy rainfall at the beginning of the season hampered land preparation and an estimated 50 percent of the total area was late planted.

In aggregate, plantings in Southern Sudan in 1995 (traditional and mechanized sectors), are estimated some 19 percent above the area of the previous year.

Food crop production in the Southern States is almost exclusively rainfed. The season usually begins in March/April and continues until November/December. Rainfall patterns exhibit large inter-annual variation and are by no means constant throughou t the season. The predominant sorghum cultivars are long-cycle and have pest-resistant qualities, but are generally low-yielding even under favourable weather conditions. The heavy concentration in sorghum production in Malakal and Wau has led to e xtensive infestations of Striga which have undermined potential yields.

This season, rains started late in most areas. Localized flooding and consequent crop losses were reported in Bahr El-Gazal, where rains were heavy in August. Thereafter, rains were normal except for a dry spell in September. Excessive rainfall was received in much of the Upper Nile region in June and July, detrimental to emerging crops and cumulative rainfall was well above average in Malakal. In Renk however, cumulative rainfall was some 32 percent below the recent average. In Bahr El-Gebe l State (Equatoria) dry spells in the April-June period caused crop losses. The late start to the season led to a partial shift to lower yielding short-cycle sorghum varieties in the mechanized sector. There were reports that late deliveries and i nappropriate seed varieties have also undermined yield potential in some areas.

Unusually heavy rainfall resulted in higher than normal incidence of plant pests, notably Dura-Mitch, Green Dura Bug and Stem Borer in both sectors in Upper Nile. In the traditional sector the extension of planted area away from homesteads made the control of birds and wild animals difficult and resulted in further losses.

Sorghum yields are estimated to have fallen by 21 percent from the 1994 level in the traditional sector, and by 23 percent in the mechanized sector.

Cereal Production in 1995
In the traditional sector total sorghum production in 1995 has increased by an estimated 172 percent from the 1994 volume. A significant expansion in planted area is estimated to have more than compensated for a decline in yields. By contrast, prod uction in the mechanized sector fell by an estimated 36 percent from the 1994 output. The mechanized sector accounted for 65 percent of total crop production in the Southern States in 1995. A rise in production costs, a late start to the season, un favourable weather conditions and unusually high pest incidence contributed to this decline. Total sorghum production in the two sectors declined by 12 percent from 1994.

The Mission's estimates for areas planted and crop production are presented in Table 1 and 2 below.

Table 1 - Cereal Production in the Southern States, 1995 ('000 tons)
Bahr El-Gazal7.
Upper Nile121.80.11.3123.2
Totals computed from unrounded data.

Table 2 - Southern Sudan Cereal Area, Yield and Production by Crop and Sector, 1994/95-1995/96

Crop/Area ('000 hectares)Production ('000 tons)
- Mechanized25621514392
- Traditional421431849
n.a. - Not available


Equatoria Region
This region consists of the Bahr El-Gebel, East Equatoria and Western Equatoria states. The mission visited the East Equatoria State (Torit and Kapoeta), and in particular Bahr El-Gebel State; extensive travel was undertaken around the capital Juba , in areas west of Juba (Gudale, Kapuri, Kabo, Luri and Nyamini) east of Juba (Kura'a Angraib) north of Juba (Rotton) and south of Juba (Rejaf East, Rejaf West and villages along the road to Lobonok, Magari, Mangaleh, Kajo-Kaji and Terekaka).

Official estimates indicate a sharp increase in plantings, reflecting improved security conditions for cultivation as the areas under Government control expanded from 5 km around urban areas to 80 km. The expansion of areas planted included also th e ploughing of virgin areas, where yields obtained are higher.

There are normally two rainy seasons in this region. The first season starts in March/April but this year rains were late and dry spells occurred during the period April-June in most parts of the state, except in the province of Kajo-Kaji which exp erienced excessive rains. This had an adverse effect and in many cases led to complete failure of crops sown in the first season, mainly maize. Some 50 percent of the early sown maize was lost due to dry weather. Rains were better during the second rainy period in July-September, but were excessive in parts, adversely affecting late sown varieties of maize at the time of heading. Sorghum, which is planted later and is more resistant to dry spells than maize, was somewhat less affected by the late and erratic rains of the first season; the sorghum area lost to dry weather is estimated at 30 percent.

Yields of maize were also reduced by damage caused by birds and other pests and diseases, as well as striga. Yields varied from total crop failures to 1.1 tons per hectare. In the areas to be harvested, an average yield of some 0.5 tons per hectare is expected. The widely used local varieties of sorghum are long maturing and low yielding but more resistant to pests and diseases. However, yields of sorghum were affected by striga, stem borer, dura smut, dura mitch, as well as by birds and wil d animals, which are difficult to control as large extensions of the cultivated land are away from the households. The expected average yield of sorghum is estimated at 0.5 tons per hectare.

Groundnut, an important cash crop in the state, is sown in June/July and, therefore, was less affected by the dry weather.

Upper Nile Region

This region comprises the Upper Nile state, Jonglei state and Unity state. In the Upper Nile State, the Mission visited the capital Malakal and surrounding areas, Mohammed El-Jack mechanized farming schemes, Obels, and Nagdiar.

Two types of farming are practiced in the region: i) mechanized agriculture, concentrated mainly in Renk and, to a lesser extent, in Malakal area, where large schemes/holdings are found and ii) traditional agriculture with holdings of one hectare o r less; the most important growing areas are the Northern part of Upper Nile and Fashode Province. Sorghum is the main foodcrop is both types of agriculture. In addition, irrigated agriculture is practiced in old rice schemes near Malakal town and along parts of White Nile river. Main irrigated crops are vegetables. In the Upper Nile State, plantings in the traditional agriculture areas increased substantially this year due to the expansion of the peace zone that allowed more land to be saf ely cultivated; settlements were organized by the Government and seeds distributed. By contrast, in the mechanized farming schemes, heavy rains in Malakal area hindered agricultural operations resulting in reductions in the area planted and late so wing of half of the land with quick maturing varieties such as Gishaish and Gadam Hamman.

Most parts of Upper Nile state, with the exception of the very northern Renk area, received heavy rains during the season, particularly in June and July. The total rainfall in Malakal during the period March-September 1995 reached 803 mm exceeding the average of 1992-94 for the same period by 27 percent. For the month of July, rains were 107 percent above the average for the same month during 1992-94. In most areas, the excessive rains had adverse effect on the first season crops. In Renk an d Gaz Rom areas, precipitation during the period April-September 1995 was about one third below the 1992-94 average, negatively affecting yield potential. In many areas, an outbreak of pests and diseases due to heavy rainfall and late sowing furthe r reduced yields. Dura Mitch, Green Dura Bug, stem borer and striga were common. Birds and wild animals were also reported to have damaged crops.

Bahr El-Gazal Region
The Bahr El-Gazal Region includes West Bahr El-Gazal state, North Bahr El-Gazal state, El-Buheirat state and Warab state. In the Bahr El Gazal state, the Mission visited the area around Wau, the capital of the state, and the Eastern Bank, Momoi and Marial Ejith Peace Camps (formerly called displaced camps).

Main growing areas in the region are around the Wau town, the Bagari and Besselio areas, Marial Bai area and parts of the Raja province. Sorghum, cassava, pulses and maize are the most important foodcrops. Sesame and groundnut are also cultivated a s cash crops.

Excessive rains during the month of August in Bahr El-Gazal state resulted in floods and crop damage. In part of September there was a dry spell, and afterwards precipitation was normal. Pest infestations, mainly striga in areas surrounding Wau tow n due to successive cultivation of sorghum in the same land, caused a substantial reduction in yields. Dura Mitch and stem borer are rather common. Table 3 below summarizes areas planted and production of cereals by state and region.

Table 3 - Southern Sudan Foodcrop Production, 1995/96

Area ProductionAreaProduction
Total mechanized rainfed:214 84192 205--
- Upper Nile State (Renk)212 10090 900--
- Upper Nile State (Malakal)2 7411 305--
Total traditional rainfed:143 53548 87340 42511 979
Upper Nile Region92 61029 56810 9201 258
- Upper Nile State53 55017 2136 300675
- Jonglei State22 2607 1552 730358
- Unity State16 8005 2001 890225
Equatoria Region27 40511 74523 52010 080
- Bahr El-Gebel State)
- Eastern Equatoria State)15 1208 1005 2502 250
- Western Equatoria State )
Bahr El-Gazal Region23 5207 5605 985641
- West Bahr El-Gazal State )
- North Bahr El-Gazal State)9 4083 0241 260135
- El-Buheirat Warab )
Southern Sudan Total of which:358 376141 07840 42511 979
- Upper Nile Region307 451121 77310 9201 258
- Equatoria Region27 40511 74523 52010 080
- Bahr El-Gazal Region14 1127 5605 985641

Table 3 - Southern Sudan Foodcrop Production, 1995/96 (continued)
Sector/State/RegionMilletTotal cereal production
Total mechanized rainfed:3367292 277
- Upper Nile State (Renk)3367290 972
- Upper Nile State (Malakal)--1 305
Total traditional rainfed:5 80460661 457
Upper Nile Region5966230 887
- Upper Nile State4204517 933
- Jonglei State100107 522
- Unity State7675 432
Equatoria Region4 20040022 225
- Bahr El-Gebel State)
- Eastern Equatoria State )3 15033810 688
- Western Equatoria State )
Bahr El-Gazal Region1 0081448 345
- West Bahr El-Gazal State )
- North Bahr El-Gazal State )336603 219
- El-Buheirat Warab )
Southern Sudan Total of which:6 140678153 734
- Upper Nile Region932134123 164
- Equatoria Region4 20040022 225
- Bahr El-Gazal Region1 0081448 345


Although the increase in traditional crop production is promising, low production in the mechanized sector is likely to lead to large price hikes in the run up to the 1996 harvest. The 1995 crop as a whole is estimated to cover less than half of th e consumption requirements in the Southern States. This estimate is based on the regional historic per caput cereal consumption norm of 90 kg per annum. Among the farm households interviewed, cereal carry-over stocks were found to be minimal in all the regions and traders' stocks are also low.

Although the improved security situation has opened up food transport routes (including the barge to Juba) the long distances between the main deficit areas and supply sources means that transport costs and hence food prices are generally high. Tra nsport costs are also increased by high fuel costs and the weak infrastructure. As a consequence, price differentials between surplus and deficit areas are wide. For example, at the time of the Mission, sorghum prices in Wau (Bahr El-Gazar) were fi ve times higher than in the surplus area of Renk. There are, however, promising signs that private trade from Renk is picking up and the number of merchants operating between Renk and Malakal has increased. A large proportion of food deficit househ olds will remain vulnerable to high food prices as the purchasing power of the majority of the population has been sharply reduced due to the civil strife. Consequently, food aid will continue to be necessary during 1996 for farmers who gathered a poor harvest, for substantial numbers of displaced people and in civil war-affected areas.

Surplus production from the mechanized sector in Renk is traditionally transported north. There may be some scope for donor financed local purchases in Renk to support food distribution programmes for internally displaced persons and vulnerable gro ups elsewhere. This would have the additional benefit of supporting producer prices in an area where they are depressed.

Livestock is important for food security in the Southern States, as meat and milk form part of the basic diet of the population. While accurate information on livestock numbers is lacking, it is clear that stocks have suffered the negative conseque nces of civil strife and the disruption of veterinary services. In Bahr El-Gazar supplies of livestock products to Wau are reported to be erratic although there has been an increase in cattle numbers in western areas as a result of migration from S outhern Darfur. In Upper Nile, data from a vaccination programme suggests that there has been a 14 percent reduction in the cattle population as a result of endemic diseases.

Distributed seed accounts for high proportion of total use: as much as 75 percent in Bahr El-Gebel. The Mission stressed the importance of timely distribution of seeds to avoid their use for food consumption in the lean period in the run up to the next harvest.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO Secretariat with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, ESCG, FAO (Telex No. 610181 FAO I, Fax No. 0039-6-5225-4495, for further information if required E-Mail: INTERNET: GIEWS1@FAO.ORG

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