In May 1998, FAO issued a Special Alert on the grave food supply difficulties in southern Sudan, particularly in Bahr el Ghazal, as a result of a succession of drought-reduced food production coupled with an intensification of the long-running civil strife. Later in the year heavy rains and flooding displaced a large number of households and damaged crops in the central and eastern parts of the country. These events prompted the fielding of an FAO Mission to southern Sudan in October and a joint FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to all the production areas in northern Sudan from 15 November to 3 December 1998 to estimate cereal production and food supply and assess food aid needs from the current harvest of mainly sorghum and millet and to make an early forecast of wheat production in the first quarter of 1999.
Based on these estimates of production and carryover stocks, the Mission assessed the 1998/99 cereal status including export potential, import requirements and food aid needs.
Senior staff from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Khartoum) and the Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) accompanied the Mission as observers on all visits except those to rebel-held areas in the south.
Pre-harvest data on area and yield were provided to the Mission by State Ministries of Agriculture for all cereal crops in all states in the north. In the south, where official statistics were not available, traditional sector crop areas were derived from the population statistics multiplied by adjusted average holding size for each state and yields were verified from agency reports and Mission observations. Data received by the Mission were cross-checked against qualitative information from NGOs, farmers, traders and international agencies working in both sectors.
Information on growing conditions, pest and disease status, rainfall, prices and input supply obtained during the field visits was cross-checked with remote sensed and field monitored data from FAO, WFP offices working in the northern and southern regions, and the Central Statistics Bureau, Khartoum. Import, export and existing stock figures were provided by the Agricultural Bank of Sudan and farmer associations in the major production areas.
By dividing into two groups during the field work in the north, the Mission was able to visit all states, conduct field surveys and spot-check assessments in the rainfed and irrigated farming systems, including the major irrigation schemes, traditional near-subsistence farmers, un-demarcated and demarcated large-scale mechanized farms and recession ("demira") planted crops on the flood plains.
The Mission forecasts total cereal production at 6.51 million tonnes in 1998/99 comprising 4.89 million tonnes of sorghum, 1.12 million tonnes of millet, 444 000 tonnes of wheat (to be harvested in the first quarter of 1999) and 52 000 tonnes of maize (produced in the South); the total is 46 percent more than last year.
This improved performance is due to increases of production in the rainfed sector where a combination of substantially increased harvested areas and improved yields due to favourable rains, which, although late, were heavy and well distributed, has resulted in forecasts of sorghum and millet production surpassing the previous record harvest of 1996/97. By contrast, cereal production from the formal irrigation schemes is expected to be some 20 percent lower than last year due to chronic maintenance problems exacerbated by unprecedented flood damage to equipment and infrastructure (canals and drains), funding difficulties and lower fertilizer use. The informal irrigated sector, however, has had a good year due to increased areas of "demira" or recession cropping.
This year's record cereal harvest, coupled with carryover stocks deriving from the ban of sorghum exports in the past three years, will result in ample cereal supplies in 1999. This will allow large quantities of grain to be exported and, at the same time, to increase food consumption and the building-up of cereal stocks. Prices of cereals have declined sharply. In the main sorghum growing area of Gedaref, the November sorghum prices were substantially below the level of a year ago and below average production costs. Despite expected exports, this could result in sharp reductions in the area planted next year.
The overall situation is, therefore, highly favourable, but the global picture masks serious deficits at local level in certain areas. In the South the situation is most serious. Despite an overall doubling of production in the South, five states North Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Warrab, Jonglei and Bahr el Jebel will be in cereal deficit. Unfortunately, this years predicted surpluses in Upper Nile and Western Equatoria are unavailable to the communities in deficit areas because of civil strife-induced market segmentation and the break down of trade routes and infrastructure. Even within such surplus states and the three states in cereal balance (West Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and East Equatoria) the inability of both urban and rural poor to access production because of a lack of income and saleable assets, means that food aid will be required throughout the year in the South. In the north, internally displaced persons in Kassala, West Kordofan, South Kordofan, South Darfur, White Nile and Khartoum are causes for concern. In these communities, food aid will be required particularly during the hungry period from March to September, except in Kasla where assistance will be needed for the whole year. Subsistence farmers in chronic food deficit North Kordofan may also experience difficulties in the coming year and their situation should be monitored closely.
For the various interventions covering Southern Sudan, war affected and food deficit regions in the Northern States, the Mission estimates that a total of 173 500 tonnes of mixed food aid commodities, including some 130 000 tonnes of cereals, will be required as emergency food aid during 1999 for 2.36 million people. In addition, some 52 600 tonnes of food commodities will be supplied by WFP in Northern Sudan to support chronic food deficit areas, flood-affected population and refugees.
The countrys main staples are cereals, with sorghum accounting for 65 percent of total cereal consumption, followed by wheat (about half of which is imported) and millet. Yields are extremely low, even when compared with other less developing African countries.
The total cereal area harvested this year is estimated at 9.62 million hectares including next springs wheat crop. This area is 13 percent greater than last years harvested area, but slightly (2 percent) less than the area of cereal harvested in 1994/95. Sorghum and millet are grown throughout the country during the rainy season from June to October. Wheat is grown under irrigation during the winter months from November to March.
This year, sorghum area has increased by 20 percent due to increased planting (a) in the mechanized rainfed sector in Gedaref, Kassala, South Kordofan and Upper Nile States and (b) in the traditional rainfed sector in Gezira (Butana), Kassala, North Kordofan, South Kordofan, South Darfur, White Nile and Western Equatoria States.
In both the mechanized and traditional sectors such increases were, in part, due to vastly improved rainfall in the northern zones of the states listed above where sorghum production is usually a speculative exercise. A later than usual start to the rains in central and southern zones of the same states, militated against the timely planting of sesame, causing some farmers to opt to plant more sorghum instead.
Mechanized production conducted by some 10 000 large scale farmers accounts for 59 percent of the sorghum area this year. All other factors being equal, yields in such systems will vary from 300 to 1 000 kg per hectare according to soil type and timing of planting. Much higher yields are expected in those soils with a lower clay contents which enabled timely planting in July/August where crops were not subjected to waterlogging and where, generally, access has been easier affording ample opportunity for timely weeding. Given a pest and disease free year, average sorghum yields are estimated to be up at 763 kg per hectare.
In the traditional rainfed sector yields are expected to be similar in most states, although lower yields at around 300-500 kg per hectare are anticipated in North and West Kordofan, where the rains have been less favourable.
Production of sorghum from the irrigated sector is expected to fall to around 92 percent of last year due to less planting in the main schemes, reduced fertilizer use and water management problems. Increased opportunistic planting of sorghum under the demira (recession) systems in Kassala and River Nile States has boosted the irrigated sorghum area by some 12 percent. Average yield is estimated to be concomitantly lower, at around 900 kg per hectare on the flood plains, compared with around 2 000 kg per hectare in the formal schemes.
The total irrigated and rainfed sorghum harvest is expected to be about 4.89 million tonnes which is 54 percent better than last year and 15 percent better than the record crop in 1996/97.
The area under millet is located mostly in the lighter soils of Western Sudan. This year a favourable rainfall pattern encouraged planting to levels similar to last year, however, more of the planted area is expected to be harvested due to increases in the effective cropping in Darfur. Around 93 percent of the millet crop is produced by the traditional rainfed sector, of which 81 percent and 12 percent come from Darfur and Kordofan respectively. However, in the neighbouring region, significant areas of land have been abandoned after planting, particularly in North Kordofan (60 percent) and West Kordofan (40 percent). In such areas, dry sowing on sandy soils is practised with little or no cultivation so abandonment does not incur a significant loss of investment but does cause a loss of potential production. This year the lost opportunities were due to delayed rain in the drier sections of the states and attacks from the millet head worm ("nafasha").
In general, however, millet production is nearly twice as much as last year at 1.12 million tonnes due to rain enhanced yields from a greater area. This production is the highest recorded level.
Wheat is grown under irrigation during the winter season. During the Mission, cultivation and sowing was underway in the main irrigation schemes. Preparations were noted to be late, retarded by flood damage to pumps and to irrigation infrastructure. An extension of the "demira" (recession) cropping system into the winter season in Northern and River Nile States had also caused farmers to concentrate on capitalizing on the extended floods rather than to prepare for the winter season.
Area under wheat is expected to be reduced by some 35 percent below the average area planted in the last ten years. Such a dramatic decline is sue to setbacks in the pump schemes in Northern and River Nile States, accounting for some 50 percent of the reduction, and a continuation of the decline in the wheat planted area in Gezira, where the crop is presently considered to be an economic risk. Levels of planting in Rahad and New Halfa are noted to have stabilized following a switch to sorghum in the marginal areas of the schemes last year.
Given the delays in preparation and sowing, wheat yields are expected to be lower than normal. Production is forecast at 443 000 tonnes, 30 percent below last years harvest, reflecting the reduced area sown and pessimistic yield predictions.
Annual rainfall throughout the country ranges from effectively zero in Northern State to 1 800 mm in the southern state of Western Equatoria. During 1998, the distribution pattern was characterized by a late start in July followed by continuous and heavy rains in August, persisting into September and October in most areas.
Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NVDI) images identify less vegetation than normal up to July-August but later images confirm the positive effect of rains in August, September and October, resulting in above-average vegetation growth throughout the country.
Cereal crops in the rainfed sector planted later than usual, have benefitted from rains continuing into October and November. Yields of all crops on the lighter soils are considerably higher than usual. By contrast, on heavier soils, heavy rains have emphasised the importance of timely agricultural practices. The vertisols of south Gedaref and elsewhere are particularly difficult to manage in years of heavy rainfall, offering reduced periods of access for cultivation and weeding. A late start to the season this year reduced the early cultivation period even further, affecting the quality of preparation and forcing late planters to wait until September, with ultimately negative effects on yield in such areas. This and waterlogging of young crops notwithstanding, the positive effects of the rains in the rainfed sector, including extended areas of flood plain cropping in Kassala and River Nile States, by far outweigh the disadvantages noted.
Unfortunately, heavy rains in August generated problems in the irrigation schemes, exacerbating the difficulties arising from poor drainage caused by silted and weed-choked ditches and canals. In the worst cases, high river levels flooded pumpsites and damaged inlets and canal systems. Preventative measures taken to restrict water access, reduced the actual area irrigated and therefore lowered production on some schemes.
As a result the performance in the irrigated sector this season has been disappointingly low with sorghum production 18 percent below last years harvest despite area increases due to extended flooding in the "demira" cropped areas.
2.1.2 Agricultural inputs
Given that more than 80 percent of the cereals are produced in the rainfed sector under low-input traditional and mechanized systems, the strategic effect of inputs is limited to availability of fuel and funds for hiring tractors or labour. Improved seed and fertilizer use within the rainfed sector is limited to pilot schemes in Damazin and Sim Sim. Most (98 percent) rainfed farmers use their own or locally acquired carryover seeds and express no demand for fertilizers. The converse is true in the irrigated sector, where most farmers use improved seeds provided through the schemes and are encouraged to use urea fertilizer which is made available for them as credit-in-kind.
This year, seeds and fertilizers were readily available to irrigation scheme farmers. The Mission noted that although improved seed use was reported to be normal, fertilizer use was down by around 20 percent with associated lowering of average yields.
Fuel and tractor services were available for the mechanized rainfed and irrigated sectors from the beginning of the season. Finance, however, was less readily available. In all the major mechanized farming areas, bank loans failed to match demand and were universally delayed as most banks only declared their lending policy in July. Credit dependent farmers, estimated at some 10-20 percent, therefore failed to cultivate and sow at the optimum time with adverse effects on area planted and yields obtained.
2.1.3 Weeds, pests and diseases
Good rainfall also benefits weeds and this year weed control has been a major task for all farmers. Weeding two or even three times was noted throughout the traditional sector. Failure to weed reduced yield and made harvesting more difficult. The most pernicious weeds noted were Sudan grass and couch grass. Striga remains a significant problem on poor or exhausted soils, particularly around garrison towns in the south and on continuously sorghum cropped land in marginal areas in the north. Differential application of urea on striga infested areas has yet to be practised although it is understood that fertilizer application will offset the negative effect of striga on yield. Some farmers switched to millet (Butana province) to break the striga cycle or practised discing-in a host crop at the beginning of the season. Of particular concern to irrigated and rainfed farmers in Kassala state was the invasion of farmland by mesquite (Prosopis juliaflora) and campaigns have been started to encourage its removal.
Fortunately, this year has been free of migratory pest problems. Preventative spraying of Quelea quelea and desert locust breeding sites was noted in Gedaref-Damazin and River Nile-Kassala States respectively. No other references to migratory pests were noted. Similarly, apart from millet head worm "nafasha" (Heliochelltus albipuntelle) infestations in North and West Kordofan, no other significant non-migratory pest problems, extending beyond the usual level of tolerance, were reported. Within this framework reported pests included grasshoppers (Darfur), African boll worm, sorghum bug, sorghum midge, stalk borer, rodents, termites and local birds.
Sorghum smut was noted on traditional rainfed farms in the east and south, but was prevented from being a significant problem by universal seed treatment in both the mechanized rainfed and irrigated sorghum sectors. Methods of application of seeds dressing, however, should be revised to ensure even distribution of the chemical and, most importantly, protection for the labour involved.
Low cereal prices in 1998 as a result of large quantities of grain-in-store and the ban on cereal exports discouraged further expansion and investment in the mechanized and irrigated sectors of the north. However, there were no reductions in the area planted of sorghum as farmers alternatives to shift to cash crops were limited this year. Cotton and sesame require substantial more rain than sorghum and the rainy season was markedly delayed in 1998. Additionally, production costs of sesame are considerable higher than those of sorghum and farmers faced financial difficulties, due to lower credit availability and low prices during the past year.
Total cereal production is presented in Table 1 and 2 by crop, by State and by sector based on statistics provided by State Ministries of Agriculture, updated during the Mission. Post-harvest figures from 1997/98 are included for comparison purposes. It should be noted that due to the collapse of agricultural data collection in all southern states except Upper Nile, traditional sector area estimates for the Southern Region have been derived from population statistics multiplied by average holding sizes adjusted for Mission observations.
This years cereal production is forecast at 6.51 million tonnes, which is 46 percent greater than last year and 22 percent greater than the record production estimated for 1996/97.
|Soghum||Millet||Wheat||Total Grains 1/||1998/99 over|
|Gezira & Managil||342||269||-||-||226||160||568||429||75|
|Total Irrigated Production||730||674||1||3||594||441||1 325||1 117||84|
|Total Harvested Area ('000 ha)||351||394||2||5||274||199||629||598||95|
|Gedaref||494||1 298||8||10||-||-||502||1 307||260|
|Total Mechanized Production||1 477||2 746||18||31||0||0||1 495||2 776||186|
|Total Harvested Area ('000 ha)||3 419||3 840||44||60||3 463||3 900||113|
|Total Traditional Production||952||1 471||629||1 088||3||3||1 584||2 563||162|
|Total Harvested Area ('000 ha)||1 559||2 171||2 780||2 872||3||2||4 342||5 045||116|
|National Production||3 159||4 891||648||1 122||597||444||4 456||6 508||146|
|National Harvested Area||5 329||6 405||2 826||2 938||277||201||8 515||9 618||113|
1/ Includes Maize from Southern States at 52 000 tonnes.
|Area ('000 ha)||Yield (Kg/ha)||Production ('000 tons)|
|Northern||17||107||95||81||36||80||1 471||953||979||1 802||2 361||1 275||25||102||93||146||85||102|
|Eastern||1 539||1 984||1 403||1 843||1 759||2 202||674||560||500||722||495||772||1 038||1 111||701||1 331||870||1 699|
|Central||2 117||2 634||2 162||2 582||1 925||2 132||699||610||593||756||585||793||1 479||1 606||1 282||1 952||1 127||1 691|
|Subtotal||4 669||6 295||4 736||6 252||5 326||6 405||633||562||514||677||593||764||2 954||3 539||2 434||4 235||3 159||4 891|
|Kordofan||757||1 697||1 033||906||1 632||970||129||245||40||128||141||145||98||415||41||116||230||141|
|Darfur||633||1 472||1 310||763||1 086||1 836||276||365||244||377||344||498||175||537||319||288||374||914|
|Subtotal||1 455||3 237||2 418||1 780||2 826||2 937||205||301||159||249||229||382||298||973||385||444||648||1 121|
|Northern||39||65||76||97||113||79||2 513||2 400||2 553||2 835||2 788||2 873||98||156||194||275||315||227|
|Eastern||7||7||31||32||24||32||1 571||1 286||1 419||1 406||1 667||1 031||11||9||44||45||40||33|
|Central||263||203||199||191||137||88||1 551||1 379||1 533||1 602||1 745||2 057||408||280||305||306||239||181|
|Darfur||2||3||8||11||3||2||1 000||667||875||1 273||1 000||1 500||2||2||7||14||3||3|
|Subtotal||311||278||314||331||277||201||1 669||1 608||1 752||1 934||2 155||2 209||519||447||550||640||597||444|
|All Cereals||6 435||9 810||7 468||8 363||8 429||9 543||586||506||451||636||522||677||3 771||4 959||3 369||5 319||4 404||6 456|
The well-distributed, heavy rains have favoured production of perennial crops, browse, grazing and tree crops throughout the country. Alternatively, the late start to the rains in the north has reduced sesame planting and water management problems have reduced cotton planting in the irrigation schemes.
Low prices for sesame and ground nuts last year were noted as being a disincentive for investment in the two crops in the rainfed sector and vegetable/fallow in the irrigation schemes. Yields of the two crops are, however, expected to have benefitted from the better rains this year and improved prices may see a revival of interest next year.
Livestock seen during the Missions field trips were noted to be in very good condition in all regions except Northern and River Nile States, where the floods had reduced the availability of irrigated forage and caused prices of alfalfa and forage sorghum to triple during the period of inundation. Elsewhere in the country exceptionally good pasture and browse is available.
No outbreaks of animal diseases were noted in the northern states. Vaccination campaigns have been completed in all regions, except for areas in the south where access have been denied because of military activity.
Estimated livestock population figures suggest that the ranges support 34.6 million head of cattle, 78.8 million head of sheep and goats and 3 million head of camels.
This years rains will ensure that the bulk of the stock will be adequately fed. Improved drinking water reserves have opened up ranges that are usually closed during the dry season. Such abundant pasture is being reflected in the stable or rising prices of livestock as agro-pastoralists, pastoralists and business-men build up their herds and flocks.
Household food economies with large contributions from livestock in the agro-pastoralist and pastoralist communities of Kordofan, Darfur and most southern States will be boosted by improved production and favourable terms of trade.
In addition to the traditional extensive production systems which dominate livestock farming, the modern sector produces milk and poultry products. Given a good harvest and low cereal prices the modern sector is likely to expand and to encompass cattle and sheep fattening for home consumption and export.
The role of pack and draught animals including mules, horses and donkeys is vitally important throughout the northern states. During the coming year it is expected that their rations will improve through increased availability of forage, low-quality cereal and cereal by-products.
Following the reduced harvest of 1995, the GoS banned exports of sorghum. Subsequently, a bumper crop was obtained in 1996 and the 1997 harvest was relatively good. However, to protect national food security, and to contain inflation in the framework of tight monetary policies, the ban was maintained for almost three years until last October. As a result, sorghum supplies in 1998 have been ample and prices low and relatively stable.
The graph below compares wholesale prices of sorghum during 1998 and 1997 in Gedaref, the main growing area which accounts for some 27 percent of the national production. Prices in other areas tend to be higher but follow the trend in Gedaref.
Source: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Planning and Economic Division
The seasonal movement of prices inter alia depends on the rainfall during the current season, which would affect expectations. Thus in 1998 prices increased from May to July as a result of the delay in the start of the rainy season but declined from August following the abundant rains of mid-July that persisted in the remainder of the season. In November when the rainy season was over, the absence of pests diseases clear and good yields certain, prices of the old sorghum crop declined a further 11 percent to S£ 16 000 per 90 kg sack.
The November sorghum quotation is 6 percent lower than the in the previous year. When the level of inflation (unofficially estimated at not less than 30 percent in 1998) is taken into account, the fall in real prices is substantially higher. Prices are historically low when compared with the level of S£ 40 000/sack reached before the 1996 harvest. Current market prices are also below the "Salem" price [/ Salem loans from ABS or other banks are supplied as cash but repaid in kind as sorghum according to a price expected to be prevailing after the harvest, but fixed in April/May before the start of the planting season. The system also incorporates a price band, which is plus or minus one third of the initial fixed price. Provided that the price prevailing in the market after harvest remains within this band no changes are made. However, if the difference between the initial fixed price and the price prevailing after harvest becomes greater or less than one third of the initial fixed price, then the farmer receives from or must pay to the ABS an amount in cash equivalent to this difference. ] , set up this year at S£ 23 000/sack, and which is assumed to take into account production costs plus a profit margin for farmers.
At Ls16 000/sack, sorghum prices are below production costs. This is putting great financial strain on farmers, particularly in the mechanized rainfed and irrigated sectors, and could result in sharp reductions in areas planted next season.
Production costs for an average mechanized farmer, normally obtaining 3 sacks for feddans (0.64 tonnes per hectare) are estimated at around S£ 18 000 per sack. This includes producer taxes (about 5 percent) and transport to the market. Although no fertilizer is applied in the mechanized rainfed farming sectors, costs of production are high due to expensive costs of gasoline for cultural operations and transport, and intensive labour for weeding and harvesting operations. The majority of farmers are large holding 1 000 feddans, or 420 hectares (against 5 feddans in the irrigated and traditional sectors), and therefore cannot rely solely on the use of family labour. For larger producers, with more than 10 000 feddans, or farmers in the best northern growing areas of Gedaref, production costs are lower at around S£ 16 000/sack.
Prices are expected to decline as the record harvest unfolds. At the time of the Missions visit, sorghum was quoted as low as S£ 11 000 per sack in Gedaref and S£ 9 000 in West Darfur state. However, sorghum prices of S£ 13 000-15 000 were common where the harvest was underway. As harvesting costs represents over 60 percent of the total production costs, if prices continue downwards a point could be reach at which farmers would be financially better off to leave crops standing in the fields.
Exports appear to be the only factor that could strengthen the market, since the amounts of sorghum purchased by ABS for strategic reserves and repayment from Salem loans do not have a significant impact in the market. However, the extent to which exports could counterbalance the downwards trend of prices is difficult to predict because of low competitiveness of Sudanese sorghum, slack international demand and uncertainty regarding Governments regulations.
The Sudanese sorghum is less competitive in international markets due to a combination of low yields (0.6 tonnes/hectare), and high taxes and transport costs to Port Sudan. At the break-even price of S£ 18 000/sack in Gedaref, some 11-12 percent [/ This percentage includes a market tax ("Gebana") of 8 percent of the price per sack, a tax of 2 percent to support Gedaref water development, plus fix taxes to support the University of Gedaref (Ls 100 per sack) and military operations (Ls 50 per sack).] has to be added to cover different taxes and levies paid by the buyer. Charges for loading and unloading sorghum from trucks, storage in silos and commissions, further rise the price by some Ls1 300 per sack. This brings the Gedaref FOT price to an equivalent of US$ 107.3 per tonne [/ Official exchange rate of 2 200 Sú per US$ at November 1998.] . When transport to Port Sudan (US$ 11), as well as additional port charges, export and customs taxes, and bank commissions (US$ 9) are added, the FOB price amounts to US$ 128.3 per tonne. This compares with a present international export price (US sorghum FOB Gulf) of US$ 95 per tonne.
However, at the actual low internal price of S£ 16 000 sack, the FOT Gedaref price goes down to US$ 96.2 and the FOB Port Sudan US$ 117 per tonne. With freight rates to Italy and Japan, (the major destinations of sorghum exports before the ban), in the order of US$ 14 and US$20 respectively, the Sudanese sorghum becomes attractive only for importing neighbouring countries. Yet, the probability that the full exportable surplus be absorbed by markets in the region is doubtful. Although Saudi Arabia and Libya, Sudan's important commercial partners, import huge quantities of coarse grains annually, they have not imported sorghum for the five past years but rather barley. At US$ 79 per tonne in the international market the current barley price is lower than that of sorghum.
Further possible declines in the internal prices are likely to increase the competitiveness of Sudanese sorghum. At an internal price of S£ 11 000 per sack, the price FOB Port Sudan would fall to US$ 83 per tonne, making Sudanese sorghum attractive for Italy, Japan and other Asian countries.
Nevertheless, sorghum exports will be subject to minimum export prices, aimed to protect producers. Although exports are now allowed, no export permit had been granted by late November as the GoS was examining the minimum price level to be set up. Unofficial information indicates that this level would be fix at around US$ 120-130 per tonne. The actual volume of exports in 1998/99 will much depend on the level at which the minimum export price will be established. The GoS is also studying the possibility of reducing taxes in order to make sorghum exports more competitive.
Two additional factors may boost sorghum exports. The first is the continuous devaluation of the Sudanese pound, which from September to December 1998 has lost 20 percent of its value. The second derives from the context of scarce foreign exchange prevailing in Sudan. In this context, traders who want to import have to obtain foreign currency through exports. Due to steady demand, most of the traders' profits derive from imports. Therefore, and to a limited extent, they could export sorghum with minimal or no profit, and make up for the "losses" with highly profitable imports, such as oil or manufactures.
Table 3 shows the Mission's forecast national cereal balance for 1998/99, as well as the previous year's balance.
|Availability||5 598||3 909||818||817||54||7 351||5 341||1 372||584||54|
|Opening stocks||1 141||750||170||220||1||841||450||250||140||1|
|Production||4 457||3 159||648||597||53||6 510||4 891||1 122||444||53|
|Utilization||6 165||3 932||818||1 297||118||8 026||5 341||1 372||1 234||79|
|Food||4 477||2 802||493||1 072||110||4 645||2 907||562||1 104||72|
|Closing stocks||841||450||250||140||1||1 001||450||500||50||1|
|Food Aid||58||23||0||0||35||- 1/||0||0||0||0|
On the supply side, opening stocks are estimated at 841 000 tonnes. Although high, these stocks are not exceptional and are lower than the previous year's level. Large sorghum stocks have been built up following the ban on exports and good crops in the past two years. For millet, satisfactory harvests in 1997/98 and 1996/97 have allowed to maintain high levels of stocks derived from the previous record crop of 1994/95. Climatic conditions in Sudan allow to keep grains, particularly millet, for several years in traditional underground storages ("matmurahs").
Stocks of sorghum are estimated at around 450 000 tonnes. The Agricultural Bank of Sudan, the main holder of official stocks (with an storage capacity of 1 million tonnes between silos and traditional storage), is reported to hold 155 000 tonnes, 61 percent of which are from the 1996/97 harvest. Reduced quantities are also held by other banks. These official stocks derive from repayment of loans under the Salem system and purchases in the market to constitute strategic reserves. At present, the GoS is seeking to export these reserves to renew stocks in view of increasing storage costs of the old crop. Traders are estimated to keep some 60 000 tonnes of sorghum and farmers about 230 000 tonnes.
Production and cereal availability: The year has yielded record sorghum and millet crops. Despite an anticipated reduction in wheat output next year, the total cereal production in 1998/99 is forecast at 6.5 million tonnes, 46 percent above last year's normal level and the highest crop on record. The bumper harvest, coupled with high levels of carry-over stocks, will result in ample cereal supplies during 1999. This will allow large exportable surplus and, at the same time, to increase food consumption and the building-up of stocks.
On the consumption/utilization side, the Mission adjusted slightly upwards the 1998 population figure based on more reliable estimate of the population in southern states. After applying a 2.7 percent annual growth rate, the mid-1999 population is projected at 30.292 millions.
In view of the anticipated improved grain supplies and decline in real prices, the Mission has raised the "all cereals" per caput consumption to 153.4 kg in 1998/99. This compares with an historical norm of 140 kg, but it is only slightly above the already higher level of last year. Most of this years increase in consumption will be for millet in the subsistence agricultural areas of western Kordofan and Darfur. The national per caput millet consumption is expected to increase by 10 percent to 18.6 kg (well above the long- term average of 11kg). Regarding sorghum, mainly produced by commercial farmers in western parts, consumption is expected to increase only marginally to 96 kg, as inflation has eroded the purchasing power of the majority population and domestic demand is slack. Moreover, this year's increase production of sorghum in western parts means that little sorghum will be moved to these areas. Wheat demand is forecast to remain strong in urban areas. This is due to wheat convenience and to the fact that higher costs of firewood for sorghum preparation have eliminated the economic advantages of consuming sorghum.
Feed use and other uses of cereals are expected to rise in 1998/99 in line with the increase in production. Seed rates are estimated at 7.5 kg/ha for sorghum, 5kg/ha for millet and 150 kg/ha for wheat. A higher percentage of crop losses has been calculated this year to account for pre-harvest losses. This is the result of the prolonged period that the crops will stand in the fields in mechanized areas. Overall, pre-harvest and normal post-harvest losses are put at 12 percent for sorghum and millet, and 8 percent for wheat.
Without penalizing national stocks the Mission estimates export availabilities of sorghum at about 900 000 tonnes. As discussed above, most will depend on Governments export regulations and absorption capacity of markets. Unofficial exports of sorghum are likely to be very limited because of tight cross-border controls to the east and good crops in Ethiopia and Eritrea. By contrast, unofficial millet exports to the west are expected this year due to the unprecedented high supplies, combined with flood reduced harvest in parts of Chad and tight supplies in the civil conflict-affected eastern parts of the DRC.
Imports are expected solely in the form of wheat. Imports of wheat, in which the country has a structural deficit, have fluctuated greatly in the past years (see Table 4). To compensate for the decline in production, imports of wheat are forecast to increase from last year to around 650 000 tonnes. Relatively low export prices in the world market are likely to support wheat imports. Usual minor quantities of rice for urban areas are also expected to be imported. Given the national cereal surplus in Sudan, donors are urged to maximize local purchases of sorghum from the surplus areas, in order to support markets, ensure locally-acceptable varieties of cereals. For reasons of cost-efficiency and logistics, food aid for Equatoria and parts of Bahr el Ghazal will continue to be supplied from Kenya.
Closing stocks: This years record cereal crop will allow for a build-up in national stocks. With an increase of 73 percent in millet production, stocks are expected to double to 500 000 tonnes, the equivalent of one-year consumption requirements. Sorghum stocks are forecast to remain at the high levels of 1997/98, but if the estimated export surplus does not materialize, they will increase sharply by the end of the marketing year. Only wheat is expected to experience a drawn-down in stocks. Overall, the Mission has tentatively forecast closing cereal stocks in 1998/99 at 1 million tonnes, an increase of 19 percent from the previous year.
As part of the Mission, a rapid appraisal of the current state of knowledge of the nutritional status of the northern population was conducted. Information from the south has been the subject of separate reports produced by WFP/OLS.
According to the 1996/97 Ministry of Health/WHO survey, the prevalence of acute protein-energy malnutrition in under fives (19.6 percent) was significantly higher than the one of the reference survey for North Sudan carried out in 1986/87. Malnutrition rates were particularly high in chronic vulnerable areas such as North Darfur and, Kordofan in the western part of the country, and the Red Sea States, in the east. Such areas face recurrent dry spells and are characterised by low food production.
Problems associated with unbalanced diets and endemic diseases are exacerbated by vitamin A and iodine deficiencies in the above States and Gezira. Iodine deficiency is also a problem in Blue Nile and Upper Nile States. Nutritional anaemia is widespread in all the States in both children and their mothers, with higher prevalence in Kordofan and River Nile States.
Acute malnutrition is area and year specific and is linked to food insecurity particularly during the hungry period between March and October. Subsistence farmers and female headed households living in drought prone areas are particularly at risk.
Recurrent population displacement and losses of assets and stocks due to the civil war in the south are a major cause of food insecurity. It is however important to differentiate between different groups of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) as they are not equally at risk of malnutrition. Recent IDPs are particularly vulnerable while IDPs who have settled years ago have developed coping strategies. Nutritional surveys carried out by the Ministry of Health and ADRA in 1997/98 showed a higher prevalence of malnutrition among IDPs living in camps; displaced communities in rural areas who live with relatives or in make shift camps face the same constraints as poor rural households but with additional problems in terms of access to land or sharecropping.
The good 1998/99 harvest should lead to increased household food security in the vulnerable areas, through increased availability of both cereal and livestock products, as well as increased job opportunities during the harvest season.
Nevertheless, there are reasons for concern in some parts of Kordofan region, where the crops were again disappointing. Men have therefore left their communities earlier than usual in search of employment and women, old people and children will be at a greater risk of malnutrition in the coming weeks: as womens workload increases, less time is available for domestic tasks (including food processing, preparation and care). The food and nutrition situation is Kordofan will therefore require close monitoring in the coming months.
More generally, comparisons between national anthropometric surveys of underfive children show no improvement in the last ten years. The 1996/87 anthropometric survey gives an overall malnutrition rate of 19.6 percent in under fives with 6.8 percent severe acute malnutrition rate. In terms of micronutrient deficiencies, the situation did not improve as expected and high endemic areas remain the same as identified years ago.
Although undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies remain the two major public health problems in North Sudan, there is no effective nutrition surveillance system. It is recommended that a food and nutrition information system be set up on the basis of existing data-collection activities in order to target, design and monitor assistance projects and programmes. Coordination of health and agriculture sectors at federal, state and province level as well as involvement of appropriate agencies and institutions will be particularly important.
Following this years good harvest, the national food security situation should improve significantly for most traditional farmers. However, as almost half of the cereals are produced by a minority of large-scale farmers, the northern population will only benefit indirectly from increased food availability, stable prices and increased job opportunities during the harvest season rather than from direct access to food.
The situation in south Sudan, however, is completely different. The continuation of the civil war being fought between Government of Sudan forces and rebel groups causes recurrent population displacement, losses of assets and stocks and continuous disruption to local markets, with the result that hundreds of thousands of Sudanese will remain food insecure. The situation particularly affects the non-combatant sections of the population: women, children, the old and the sick who, as the most vulnerable are the main victims of hunger.
As a result, food aid interventions will be needed on a large scale. In Jonglei, Western Upper Nile and Unity States restricted planting and harvesting and heavy flooding have caused food shortages among large sections of the war-affected population. In Bahr el Ghazal, despite improvements in both government and rebel-controlled areas, the displaced and destitute groups, representing 50 percent of the population in some areas, will need help to survive, to replace their assets, to rehabilitate their farms and to achieve food security.
Although East and West Equatoria are expected to produce food surpluses, several besieged or isolated towns and areas hosting displaced persons and returnees will be in food deficit.
In northern Sudan, the major causes for concern arise from the situation of the internally displaced communities in Kassala, West and South Kordofan, South Darfur, White Nile and Khartoum. Inability to produce or access enough food to meet basic needs means that such communities will remain vulnerable during 1999, particularly during the hungry-gap period from March to September.
In North Kordofan, the disappointing crop indicates that communities will require close monitoring. However, the general household economies should be boosted by work opportunities in neighbouring states and improved livestock condition and performance and terms of trade for livestock products.
3.4.1 Review of the emergency programme in 1998
FAO/WFP mission in December 1997 estimated that some 73 500 tonnes of food commodities would be required for emergency food assistance to 2.4 million people in the Southern states, transitional zones, Khartoum and White Nile displaced camps. The same mission suggested that food deficit in Darfur, and Red Sea should be covered through Emergency Interventions. But 1998 was a particularly bad year. Following a very poor harvest carry-over from 1997, hostilities between the SPLM and the GOS in February led to new displacement of around 150 000 people in Bahr el Ghazal. The whole region was struck by serious food shortages, which in some areas reached famine conditions and resulted in significant losses of human life due to hunger. Fighting in East Equatoria and Western Upper Nile/Unity also brought about displacement and hunger. Once again, economies of many areas have been devastated by continued fighting, crop failures, cattle rustling and over-slaughter, massive population displacement, food stock losses and lack of accessibility. Trade and exchange became virtually non-existent in most areas. Moreover, rains arrived late in the affected regions and were followed by severe floods, destroying crops on over 100 000 hectares of land.
To respond to this sudden emergency WFP, launched the biggest ever humanitarian air-drop operation in its history and with the combination of air, barge and road movements, managed to deliver over 98 000 tonnes of relief food to over 2 million affected population between January and November 1998. In addition WFP through ongoing school feeding programmes, Food for Work and the Protracted Refugee Operation provided a total of 30 000 tonnes of different food commodities to vulnerable population living in Darfur, Kordofan, Red Sea and the Eastern regions of the country.
The distribution of increased levels of emergency food assistance among the targeted population had definite positive impact and the crisis in Bahr el Ghazal and in several other areas has been contained. However, it is far from over. Nutritional situation is generally improving, but as many as 46 percent of children are still malnourished in some areas and daily death rates can still reach the alarming 2 per 10 000 people in worst hit locations. Targeting the most vulnerable continues to present challenges. The 1998 harvest though generally better than that in 1997 throughout the country cannot compensate for production shortfalls in several affected regions. Surpluses cannot be transported to deficit locations due to lack of road infrastructure and continued insecurity and even in areas with relatively sufficient crops, these are not directly accessible to all population groups bereft of cash or saleable resources.
Relief food handled by WFP Offices in Sudan is either purchased locally, or arrives via Port of Sudan. WFP has adequate port and logistic facilities for receiving, transport and storage of the commodities within the country. In 1998, about 50 000 tonnes of sorghum were purchased locally by WFP and distributed as food aid. Due to adequate supply of cereals in Sudan and low market prices it is anticipated that local sorghum will again be available for purchase in 1999, under very favourable rates.
WFP operational and logistics bases in Sudan include Port Sudan, Khartoum, Kosti and El Obeid, while outside Sudan the main bases are Mombasa and Lokichoggio in Kenya and Koboko in Uganda. A network of 12 field sub-offices in northern sector, the Lokichoggio base and one field base in southern sector are responsible for planning, assessments, distributions and monitoring in their regions. More forward bases in the southern sector are being established. Relief food from these bases is delivered to recipient locations in both, Northern and Southern Sudan, by a combination of air, river, and road transport. During 1998, 72 percent of the deliveries was done by air, followed by roads (21 percent) and 7 percent by barge. While all air-deliveries of oil have to be made by a costly air-lift system, air-deliveries of all other commodities are carried out by the cheaper air-drop system. In order to decrease costs, in 1998 WFP also started food deliveries to the Southern Sector from El Obeid, Sudan, which is much closer to destinations in parts of Bahr el Ghazal than Lokichoggio, and Khartoum. These deliveries have proven to be efficient and they will be continued in 1999.
Following the signing of the Security protocol and Minimum Operational Standards for Rail Corridors and Cross Line Road Corridors, by the OLS, the Government of Sudan and the SPLA, during TCHA meeting in late 1998 in Rome, WFP is determined to increase its land deliveries and is vigorously pursuing the options with all concerned authorities. An initial feasibility study for the utilisation of the Sudanese railway network was undertaken in 1998. Additional barges are to be added to the current fleet to increase the current delivery capacity. In the absence of all-weather road networks in Southern Sudan funding for a Special Logistics Operation is currently being sought from the donor community, to improve conditions of two road corridors and establish WFPs own fleet of 40 trucks. In 1999 WFP will make all possible efforts to start delivering relief cargo across lines dividing the warring parties. If achieved, this would not only improve the general access of relief to affected areas, but would also make operation in some areas significantly cheaper.
To facilitate distribution of relief food to needy population living in areas with poor road network and infrastructure, food will be pre-positioned in the remote locations in the transitional zone, Unity State, Read Sea Hills, White Nile and Kassala States before the onset of the rainy season.
WFP is planning to assist all intended beneficiaries through targeted distributions of cereals, pulses, oil, salt and corn-soya blend. In northern sector high energy food (BP-5, DSM, sugar, Unimix) will also be provided through NGOs.
3.4.3 Emergency food needs for 1999
In Southern Sudan food aid will be needed in Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria regions, Unity State and parts of Jonglei. In Bahr el Ghazal, where general production deficits, population displacement, losses of crops and livestock and lack of alternative sources, 831 500 people will need food aid, particularly during the hunger gap period. In Unity where constant factional fighting and floods have resulted in significant displacements and food losses 239 000 people will need assistance. In Jonglei, where floods and insecurity have caused massive displacement, crop and food stock losses some 362 000 people will be affected. In Upper Nile, and Equatoria Region crop harvests are predicted to be good but the war and flood affected persons are expected to face a limited though significant food deficit. In Upper Nile, WFP is planning to provide food aid to 253 000 people affected by flooding, displacement and insecurity. In Equatoria food shortages will affect 267 500 people located in garrison towns or in displaced/returnee hosting areas. In total some 2 million people or 40 percent of the total population of Southern Sudan is expected to be in need of food assistance during 1999.
Despite the good production achieved in Western and Eastern Sudan some 350 000 vulnerable persons living in the transitional zone, Khartoum and White Nile displaced camps and flood-affected areas in Northern Sudan are expected to face significant food deficits during 1999. Localised crop failures and insufficient purchasing power are undermining the food security of urban poor, subsistence farmers and displaced population. The Mission estimates that food aid will be needed for the following numbers of people: 180 000 in Khartoum; 8 500 in White Nile, 30 000 in Kassala, 21 600 in West Kordofan, 72 500 in South Kordofan, 42 000 in South Darfur, and 52 000 in other non-OLS areas. Food supplies during the lean period will help in curtailing rural migration and stabilizing the work force.
Due to high malnutrition rates in many areas, WFP will also provide additional high-energy food to 25 000 severely malnourished children, pregnant and lactating women, malnourished adults, TB and kalazar patients. In all affected regions, WFP will also distribute rations to family members taking care of the beneficiaries undergoing therapeutic and supplementary feeding (mainly mothers of malnourished children).
In view of several failures of peace negotiations in the past and current hostilities in western Upper Nile/Unity, Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria, it is feared that the civil war could further escalate during 1999 and hostilities even spread to other areas. This would exacerbate the current crisis. In order to be prepared for additional relief needs resulting from possible escalation of conflict or climatic calamities and to be able to respond promptly to any potential emergencies, WFP will incorporate into the 1999 Programme a contingency stock of 10 percent of projected annual food aid requirements
For the various interventions covering Southern Sudan, war affected and food deficit regions in the Northern States, the Mission estimates that a total of 173 300 tonnes of mixed food aid commodities including some 130 000 tonnes of cereals will be required as emergency food aid during 1999. A summary of the breakdown of the number of beneficiaries and the quantities of commodities required in 1999 for the emergency interventions, excluding the ongoing development programme assisted by WFP are given in Table 5.
|Khartoum||180 000||6 048|
|White Nile||8 500||857|
|Kassala||30 000||6 048|
|West Kordofan||21 600||726|
|South Kordofan||72 500||2 437|
|South Darfur||42 000||1 410|
|Bahr el Ghazal||831 500||73 839|
|Upper Nile||253 400||6 216|
|Unity||239 000||16 942|
|Jonglei||362 200||14 563|
|Equatoria||267 500||19 005|
|Non-OLS||52 000||1 512|
|Sub Total||2 360 200||149 603|
|Supplementary and therapeutic feeding||25 000||7 931|
|Grand total||173 288|
In addition to the ongoing emergency operation in Southern Sudan WFP is expected to supply some 52 600 tonnes of food commodities in Northern Sudan. The interventions will be targeted to chronic food deficit areas, flood-affected population and refugees.
|Type||Beneficiaries||Food aid (tonnes.)|
|Emergency assistance for flood affected persons in Sudan||113 000||4 577|
|Protracted Refugee Operation||159 500||30 642|
|Assistance to rural workers in drought prone areas||100 000||6 600|
|School feeding||265 000||10 759|
|Total||637 500||52 578|
The Mission visited 24 out of the 26 States, only Unity State and Eastern Equatoria were not visited by one of the Missions teams. For ease of presentation, the states have been grouped together into six main regions and the qualitative information received during the Missions visits to ministries, agencies, farms and schemes collated to provide the six regional summaries below. Table 3 presents cereal area, yield and production by crop and by Region.
Encompassing Gedaref, Kassala and Red Sea States, the Eastern Region normally provides some 20 percent of the national cereal crop. This years production accounts for 23 percent of the estimated national harvest.
In the most important Gedaref area, mechanized rainfed sorghum production was estimated at 1.298 million tonnes, more than double last years poor performance, mostly due to increased planting and good yields in the northern zone of the State.
Rainfall through the region started late in July, initially causing concern and encouraging some farmers to reduce the area under sesame in favour of sorghum. Once started, rain continued regularly throughout August and September and persisted into October and November in southern localities. Above-average rainfall, ranging from 500 mm to 1 000 mm was recorded across the Region.
Heavy rains in August emphasized the need for farmers to be well prepared, particularly in the southern part of the Region, where continuous rainfall denied access to fields for three to four consecutive weeks, delaying field operations until September in some cases with negative effects on yields due to late sowing and poor land preparation. The overall benefit from the rain to the Region, however, is reflected in this years average sorghum yield, which is estimated at around 770 kg/hectare compared to 422 kg/hectare last year.
Regarding inputs, farmers carryover seeds which account for more than 95 percent of the planting material in the rainfed sector, were readily available. No shortages were experienced with regard to fuel or access to tractors. However, delays in access to credit were noted and the credit ultimately available was said to be far short of the demand determined by the concerned State Ministries of Agriculture. Unsold stocks held by the main lending banks were noted as discouraging further investment in cereal production, particularly early in the season when the rains were late.
This year, weed competition was identified as the main husbandry problem facing the farmers. The abundant rains increased weed growth causing traditional farmers to weed two or three times. Timely weeding in the mechanized sector was disturbed by the heavy rains in August which prevented access for tractors and lorries carrying labourers, slowed down field operations and increased the costs of labour gangs. Delayed weeding increased plant competition, particularly in southern areas where Sudan grass was identified as the major weed.
In the more marginal areas of the Region and where sorghum has been continuously cropped, striga continues to be a cause for concern with associated negative effects on yields.
Pests and diseases were minimal. The only mention of migratory pests noted by the Mission were references to preventative campaigns mounted by State Ministries of Agriculture in Gedaref and Kassala to control locust hoppers and spray Quelea quelea nesting sites.
Non-migratory pests were present throughout but at tolerable levels. Pests identified included African (American) boll worm, stalk borer, sorghum midge and local birds.
Regarding plant diseases, sorghum smut was noted on traditional rainfed farms. In the mechanized rainfed and irrigated sectors, seed dressing was universally conducted on both carryover seeds and on improved seeds provided by the irrigated farming corporations. Methods of application noted on the large-scale rainfed units left much to be desired regarding the protection of seed-dressers.
At the time of the Mission, harvesting in the traditional sector and in the irrigated sector was well advanced. Yield were already measurable and data were obtainable from combine harvester and thresher contractors.
Despite the extended area, farmers, traders and officials were confident that sufficient levels of labour and machinery were available to harvest the crop. However, it is expected that the harvesting period will be prolonged and that pre-harvest/harvesting losses will be high.
The irrigated sector in the Region comprises the formal year-round irrigation schemes of New Halfa and part of Rahad, the seasonal irrigation schemes of Gash and Tokar, and the flood based "demira" system of Gash Die. This year, sorghum production in the formal irrigation schemes was disappointing due to water-handling problems exacerbated by financial difficulties associated with corporations in the process of privatization. The heavy rains in August not only caused problems of water logging in the fields, but the unusually high levels of the rivers disrupted inlet and pumping activities. Reduction of water supplies to command areas, ironically, caused problems of water shortage in remote fields of the same schemes.
Sorghum production from New Halfa and Rahad is estimated to be some 10 percent and 20 percent down from last year due to a combination of the water management problems reducing area under cultivation and lower use of fertilizers on cereals.
Water management problems reduced production from the Gash seasonal irrigation scheme. As the abundant water could not be easily controlled within the existing system and to prevent long-term damage to canals and bunds, areas were not flooded. The actual area irrigated was therefore 60 percent less than last year. Yields are, however, expected to be 50 percent up.
By contrast, the unstructured irrigated sector in the Region, depending on floods and hand sowing, is expected to produce substantially more sorghum than last year with exceptional floods recorded in Gash Die and in Tokar, doubling the area under cultivation and increasing the expected yield.
The major problem currently worrying administrations and farmers associations in the Region is the effective marketing of surpluses. Grain-in-store is estimated at around 350 000 tonnes within the formal storage network including the Government Strategic Reserve, banks and trader stocks. In addition, traditional underground stores (macmorra) are known to exist on farms throughout the Region. The opening of the export market in July 1998 will offer opportunities to release such stocks. Apart from the associated cash flow problems, failure to sell the stocks will continue to be a disincentive for future investment.
The Central Region comprises the States of Gezira, Sennar, Blue Nile and White Nile, which include major irrigation schemes as well as substantial traditional and mechanized rainfed farming areas. This years cereal production in the region amounts to just under 2 million tonnes of which 85 percent is sorghum.
The forecast is greater than last year due to improved sorghum yields in Sennar and White Nile mechanized farms and increased planting and improved yields of both sorghum and millet in the traditional rainfed sector throughout the Region.
In the north and eastern parts of the Region, the rains were around three weeks late then continuous and heavy, resulting in above average rainfall in each state ranging from 400 mm in Gezira to over 1 000 mm in Damazin and Sennar. The pattern was repeated in western zones with rainfall becoming effective in July and continuing until the end of September. Compared with last year, the rains were very good with no dry spells which lowered last years regional production.
In the rainfed sector, carryover seeds were universally available for both mechanized and traditional farmers from their own stocks. Fuel and tractor services, though available were only accessible to farmers with funds. Credit available through the banks was below demand and late, which affected the timeliness of farming operations of an estimated 20 percent of the large scale mechanized farmers.
As elsewhere, the Region was virtually migratory pest free. Preventative spraying of quelea quelea nests in Sennar and Damazin was undertaken. No other reference to migratory pests was noted by the Mission. Early season spraying controlled the sorghum bug in the Region and no other non-migratory cereal pests were considered to be beyond the usual limits of tolerance by either plant protection specialists or farmers consulted.
Incidences of sorghum smut noted were restricted to the traditional rainfed sector and in comparatively few mechanized farms where seed dressing had not been applied.
The major problem facing farmers in the rainfed sector this year was weed control. Heavy weed growth coupled with low access to cash, reduced weeding efficiency. Although most farmers in the traditional sector weeded two or three times during the season, mechanized farmers tended to weed only once because of access problems. Yields expected in the Region range from around 400 kg to 1 000 kg per hectare depending in the main on timeliness of operations.
Estimated production from the irrigated sector in the Region, comprising 1998 irrigated sorghum and 1999 wheat harvests in the Gezira, Rahad, Blue Nile and Suki schemes, is disappointingly low this year. The schemes have faced a combination of problems which has reduced the efficiency of water delivery and management resulting in an area reduction of 10-20 percent and yield reduction of a similar order. Financial difficulties arising during the transition phase to privatization have affected maintenance of equipment and infrastructure. High river levels have disrupted pump systems and, ironically, reduced off-take. Silted and weed-choked drainage channels have impeded drainage, leading to waterlogging in low-lying areas. Excess surface water has also affected the timeliness of cultivation, sowing and weeding operations. Farmers have also opted to reduce costs in the irrigation schemes in anticipation of high rainfed sector production reducing market value of sorghum. Consequently, fertilizer use in sorghum has dropped by around 20 percent in the Gezira scheme compared to last year.
Given the marginal nature of wheat production in the Region, the forecast for the coming irrigated wheat season is lowered production from a decreased area resulting in a forecast harvest of around 180 000 tonnes.
The Region comprises three States, North, West and South Kordofan, with cereal production consisting of rainfed sorghum and millet, mostly in the traditional sector.
As rainfall increases from north to south, in a normal year the bulk of production comes from the southern zones. Sorghum, grown on the heavier soils tends to offer a more reliable harvest, however, in good year millet grown opportunistically with minimal cultivation techniques can dramatically boost the cereal production of the zone.
In North Kordofan, a late start to the rains was noted throughout the State, however conditions improved resulting in higher than average precipitation ranging from 304 mm (El Rahad) to 422 mm (Semait).
Carryover seeds were used by over 85 percent of the farmers and no fertilizer was used on cereals. Despite substantial areas of millet being dry sown before the rains, the late arrival of the rains is estimated to have reduced the harvestable area below last years figure due to the delay between sowing and production effective rainfall.
Further, infestation by millet head worm "nafasha" (Heloochelltus albipuntelle) has also reduced the millet yield to a very low 86 kg per hectare. Despite its widespread devastation the use opf pesticides is not considered to be economic.
Sorghum yield is, by contrast, double last years figure and is substantially higher than any yield in the last ten years at 321 kg per hectare.
In West Kordofan, a similar rainfall pattern was noted, with precipitation ranging from 450 mm to 657 mm across the State. Again higher and better distributed rainfall in the southern part of the State afforded better production.
Carryover seeds were available from their own stocks for 85 percent of the farmers. Seed distribution by NGOs and Government services made up the remainder following programmes initiated after last years poor harvest.
Areas expected to be harvested are similar to last year for both sorghum and millet. Some 30 percent improvement is expected in sorghum yields whereas millet yields are estimated to be as low as last year due to millet head worm infestation.
In South Kordofan, better than average rains received between mid-July and October resulted in precipitation ranging from 503 mm to 801 mm across the State.
Harvested sorghum areas are expected to be similar to last year in the mechanized and traditional sectors. Inadequate and late credit was noted to have limited the mechanized cultivated area of sorghum. Yields are forecast to be 20 percent better at around 650 kg per hectare.
The area under millet has increased and most areas will be harvested. Good yields of around 430 kg per hectare are expected.
The anticipated good harvest in the Region is affecting cereal prices, particularly in South Kordofan where a drop of S£ 10 000 per 90 kg sack (from 30 S£ 000 to S£ 20 000) has been recorded in the past six weeks. By contrast in North Kordofan, where the harvest is slightly less than last year, prices of sorghum are being sustained at S£ 23 000 and millet prices were over S£ 30 000 per sack.
The sizeable livestock population in the Region was noted to be in good condition. Browse and grazing were readily available leading to expressed concern by agro-pastoralists that such valuable resources should be protected by fire lines.
No outbreaks of animal diseases were reported and livestock prices were stable or rising according to purchasing power within the localities.
The Region comprises three states, namely North, South and West Darfur. The States are predominantly rainfed millet producing and, as such, are subject to extreme variations in fortune according to season. West and South Darfur produce more consistently than the North and also include significant areas of sorghum.
Cereal production estimates are double last years crop due to a millet crop four times bigger than the average crop in the past ten years and a sorghum crop 30 percent higher than last years record crop for the Region.
Such an unprecedented harvest is due to favourable rains which though late starting in mid-July, fell regularly for the rest of the season, doubling the rainfall received last year. Carryover seeds were universally available and fuel and tractor services were not limiting as nearly all farmers planted traditionally as is the usual practice on holdings around 2 hectares. The good rains are also reflected in the excellent state of the pasture and availability of drinking water in the "hafirs" improving pasture accessibility.
This seasons record production has also been aided by a migratory pest free season and no significant crop diseases. Non-migratory pests such as grasshoppers, rodents and local birds were noted to be not exceeding usual tolerable levels. Outbreaks of millet head worm (nafasha) were controlled naturally by the heavy rains.
Market prices have fallen steadily throughout the Region. Sacks of sorghum (90kg) were noted for sale in late November at S£ 9 000 only. Lowest millet prices noted were S£ 15 000 per 90 kg sack and expected to decline further as harvesting progressed.
The Northern Region comprises Northern State and Nile State with a population mostly located along the banks of the Rivers Nile and Atbara.
Cereal production is based on irrigated sorghum and maize crops during summer and an irrigated wheat crop during winter. The 1998/99 cereal production is forecast at 328 000 tonnes.
This year witnessed unprecedented flooding in both states resulting in considerable damage to property and capacity to produce. All along the river banks summer crops were inundated, perennial crops lost and pumps, pump houses and inlets destroyed. Further inland, canal systems were disrupted, earth banks destroyed and canals silted. In addition, work on the rehabilitation of newly amalgamated cooperative schemes has been set back as resources have been diverted from long term plans to emergency needs.
Such events caused a loss of 19 600 hectares of irrigated sorghum in Northern State and a similar loss in Nile State. In Northern State this is reflected in a 40 percent reduction in sorghum production. However, the loss in Nile State was more than compensated for by a considerable extension to the "demira" crop. Seluka planting into the silty plains left by the receding floods reached over 50 000 hectares. A further 4 000 hectares was planted in the usual irrigated areas following a decline in the water level. In addition, rainfall accumulating in low-lying areas away from the river banks is expected to produce a further 11 000 tonnes from 17 000 hectares.
In addition to cereal crop losses, forage production from perennial crops (alfalfa) and maize and sorghum were lost, tripling the price of animal fodder for a livestock population with virtually no rainfed forage. As a result, animal condition is poor and mortality levels high. The winter production of horse beans (Vicia faba) which is a most important source of revenue in the Region, has also been disrupted by delayed and restricted land preparation.
Due to the flood-induced changes described above, most cereal crops viewed by the Mission were only at heading stage. Crop condition appeared to be good and no serious pests or diseases were noted. Preventative campaigns against desert locust hoppers had been mounted by the River Nile Ministry in four out of five constituent provinces of the State to safeguard the coming season.
Preparations for wheat sowing were in hand, but had been delayed by several weeks. In both states, Ministry staff were optimistic that cultivation and sowing would be completed before the traditional cut-off point for wheat planting. Progress had been impeded by reduced access, diversion of labour to other work associated with rehabilitation, damaged pumps and inlets. Weaker than normal draught animals due to three previous months of forage shortages, were said to be slowing down secondary cultivation (harrowing and seeding) and affecting the quality of land preparation.
Consequently, the Mission forecasts a lower wheat planted area in both States. Despite the availability of fertilizer at prices lower than last year, yields are expected to be lower due to the retarded planting date.
The eight states of southern States were visited by an earlier FAO Mission in October. An FAO Special Report with the findings and recommendations of the mission was issued on 16 November 1998. A summary of that assessment is included below.
Southern Sudan has been in a state of civil war since 1983. As a result, the area is partitioned between the Government of Sudan and rebel administrations backed by military forces. The latter areas are further segmented along factional lines, creating a cross-hatching of internal frontiers and borders that change according to peace accords, alliances or military successes.
Such segmentation has destroyed the coherence of the civil and economic infrastructure previously existing in the Region and seriously affects inter alia agricultural activities in what is, naturally, a very productive area of the country.
Administratively, the Government divides the area into ten states, grouped into three regions, namely Upper Nile (Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States), Bahr el Ghazal (Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes and Warrab States) and Equatoria (Western Equatoria, Bahr el Jebel, Eastern Equatoria). Past development policies, easier access and better security have led to the emergence of large-scale mechanised agricultural holdings in the northern plains of Upper Nile Region. There, cereal production, mostly sorghum, from less than 1 000 large-scale farmers generally accounts for 30 percent of the total cereal production of the South. The remainder comes from some 800 000 subsistence or near-subsistence households estimated to be agriculturally active throughout southern Sudan. These farmers produce mostly sorghum and maize, with millet and upland rice as minor crops in some areas. Reliance on cereals varies according to agro-ecological zone, with groundnuts and cassava becoming increasingly important to the west and south respectively. Fish, livestock products and wild foods contribute significantly to the regular diet.
Cereal production for the South is given in Table 4. Comparison figures are provided for the two previous years.
|1996||1997||1998||98/97 % Production|
|Area (000 hectares)||Yield (tonnes/ hectare||Production (000 tonnes)||Area (000 hectares)||Yield (tonnes/ hectare||Production (000 tonnes)||Area (000 hectares)||Yield (tonnes/ hectare||Production (000 tonnes)|
|Bahr el Jebel||52.8||0.47||24.6||43.0||0.31||13.2||39.4||0.65||25.7||+95|
|N. Bahr el Ghazal||55.3||0.25||13.7||41.3||0.25||10.2||22.4||0.65||14.6||+43|
|W. Bahr el Ghazal||54.2||0.39||20.9||41.8||0.32||13.2||29.5||0.76||22.3||+69|
|Total Traditional & Mechanized||869.3||0.47||404.8||682.0||0.48||328.1||720.1||0.75||537.7||+64|
Mechanized production in 1998/99, which is only found in Upper Nile State is clearly up, due to increased area cultivated. In the traditional sector areas are reduced in all States except in Western Equatoria where some expansion has occurred and serial cropping of maize has been taken into consideration.
In contrast to Upper Nile, Unity States farmers have had less opportunity to take advantage of the improved natural conditions. Conflict has disrupted cultivation and weeding, and is likely to disrupt harvesting throughout the State. Fields away from households have been abandoned and yields are expected to be lower. In an attempt to redress the imbalance, ten tractors were supplied by the Government to the State Ministry of Agriculture to speed up cultivation and cultivated 1 650 hectares which were sown to millet.
Despite the man-made problems, production of cereals in 1998/99 is expected to be vastly improved on last years poor harvest. Cereal production, predominantly sorghum (66 percent) and maize, is expected to be in the order of 17 400 tonnes from some 40 000 hectares, which, though some 71 percent better than last year, reflects a much lower yield per hectare than in neighbouring states because of the disturbance to the timeliness and efficacy of husbandry practises.
The production will only just meet the States expected cereal requirement.
The late arrival of the rains this year caused some farmers to move to the lowland to secure a crop in anticipation of a similar rainfall pattern to 1997. Unfortunately, heavy rains in Uganda resulted in unprecedented volumes of water in the Nile, which caused widespread flooding of the lower land in the State. Areas around Bor have been particularly affected with early crops lost. However, the highland crops, both early and late plantings, have benefitted from the continuous rains from the middle of the season onwards.
In consequence, the Mission anticipates a reduction of some 30 percent in the area harvested, but a substantial improvement in yield per hectare of both sorghum and maize, with a resulting harvest of 26 800 tonnes. This is expected to provide 81 percent of the States cereal use.
West Equatoria is the most productive state in the south. Two harvests of maize and groundnuts are obtained and a wide variety of minor cereals.
No migratory pests or disease outbreaks were reported. However, the Mission noted the universal presence of cassava mosaic disease which must be responsible for substantial losses, but does not seem to be a cause for concern.
Area cultivated in 1998 is estimated to have increased due to NGOs contracting farmers to multiply sorghum seed for distribution. Hitherto, the impossibility of marketing surpluses has hampered development. Yields per hectare are estimated at just less than 1 tonne per hectare.
It was noted that most farmers in the area have substantial granaries capable of holding up to 6 tonnes. Stored crops included groundnuts, upland rice, millet and sorghum.
Cereal production from the State is estimated at around 99 100 tonnes which is more than twice last years level and 40 percent up on the 1996/97 estimates. It includes the forecast double cropping of maize for consumption in mid-1999 and will provide a substantial quantity for sale unless the influx of returnees from the DRC increases.
Unlike the Western Equatoria State, Eastern Equatoria has had its agricultural season severely disrupted by civil strife. Information on the season is sketchy due to restricted access to the main production areas.
Satellite images and rainfall data follow the general pattern of most of the southern states with a late and erratic start to the season compensated by well-distributed rains later. It is likely that bombing of towns, military engagements and inter-faction raiding will have restricted the opportunity of farmers to take advantage of the better rains or harvest all of the areas planted. Therefore, the productive area is not expected to be any greater than last year, which was 40 percent below the estimated 1996/97 harvested area.
Farmers with access to their fields are likely to obtain better yields than last year, given the absence of significant pest and disease outbreaks. As a result, maize and sorghum production is expected to be around 38 000 tonnes which, although substantially better than last year, is nowhere near the potential of the area. Cereal requirements are estimated to be covered this year, with some surpluses available.
As with Eastern Equatoria, information from Bahr el Jebel state is scanty. Production on the upland, where farmers moved from the Nile islands and riverine lowlands early in the season to avoid floods, has benefitted from a rainfall that, although late and erratic until August, stabilised and continued regularly until October. As in other areas, the season has been free from significant pest or disease outbreaks.
Seed distribution by UNDP, UNICEF and other agencies has helped in redressing the loss of seeds last year because of insecurity.
Cereal prices in Juba, fluctuating from S£ 17 000 to S£ 60-70 000 per quintal, reflect the dependence of the Juba population on supplies arriving by barge from the north, rather than the influence of the annual harvest. This year at around 25 000 tonnes of cereals for the whole state, production is estimated to be well above the cereal harvest of 1996/97 and equal to 90 percent of the requirements.
Located along the borders with Darfur and Kordofan, Northern Bahr el Ghazal state includes the northern flood plains of the Nile, whose main agricultural practices are influenced by seasonal flooding, a mixture of soil types and rainfall usually supporting a growing season of some 150-180 days. In addition, there is a second season based on residual moisture, during which cropping of tobacco from January to April is the main activity. However, this practice is limited due to insecurity and shortages of planting material.
The declaration of a "cease fire" in the region in April, plus an end to fighting between rebel factions, offered an opportunity for displaced farmers to return to their homesteads. In the event, although substantial numbers of people returned, a combination of factors has led to a lower estimate of area cultivated than last year. The findings suggest that the reduced capacity for cultivation is due to food shortages reducing the capability and will to work, fear and uncertainty as to the future, and risk avoidance practices. In consequence, the estimated average farm size in the State for 1998/99 has been reduced to 0.2 hectares. Such a traumatic state is unlikely to be overcome by seed distribution.
In keeping with the other states, the rains were late, initially erratic, and then stable and good and have continued until October. Unusually extensive flooding has caused crop losses on the lowland areas ranging from 10 percent to 80 percent according to village location. Fields in upland areas have produced good crops of sorghum, millet and groundnuts.
Livestock, where noted, were in good condition but were generally significant by their absence. Last years factional raiding and looting seem to have disrupted ownership patterns of cattle, sheep and goats, and have also adversely affected availability of farmyard manure..
Cereal crop production is not expected to exceed 14 600 tonnes, which is only some 29 percent of the expected requirement of the State.
This year, the rain followed the familiar pattern of a late start and an erratic early season, followed by good rains from July/August onwards. However, full advantage of the conditions was not taken in all areas. A breakdown in law and order in Wau town displaced ten of thousands of people to and from Government held areas during the planting season, putting pressure on villagers and townspeople alike, and stretching the coping mechanisms to breaking point. Associated looting not only annihilated seed stocks, but also destroyed revolving funds and farmer confidence.
Despite being centres of agricultural trade, no inputs are available in Wau town or in Raja, and credit is inaccessible. Although banks are present, they will not lend to farmers without collateral. In Raja, compared to Wau and its environs, conditions have been comparatively secure and farm sizes are larger. Yields throughout the State are expected to be at least double last years, resulting in an expected production of some 22 300 tonnes from the state, a harvest similar to 1996. This is expected to meet cereal requirements during the year and suggests that, with cassava and groundnuts, the population is in a much better position than their northern neighbours in the region.
The two remaining states in the Bahr el Ghazal region, Lakes and Warrab, include the western Nile flood plains and part of the Ironstone plateau. Lakes includes the important production centres of Rumbek and Tonj; however, insecurity, displacement and looting by various militias have wrought havoc and seriously affected the previous livestock-crop balance which provided the area with its livelihood.
Given good natural conditions, despite the late and erratic start to the rains, production is expected to be greater than last year, but from a substantially reduced area. However, at an estimated 33 300 tonnes, it is over 90 percent of the annual estimated requirement.
Warrab state is in a similar position to Lakes state, with an important production and trading centre, Gogrial, having been totally undermined by civil conflict and uncontrolled militia action. Enforced movements out of the town placed pressure on villages in the vicinity hastening this years breakdown of coping strategies. As a result of the losses of seeds, tools and farmer confidence, and despite far better natural conditions than last year, cropped area is not expected to have increased beyond last years low level. Yields however are likely to be better resulting in an estimated cereal production of 25 800 tonnes, which is less than 60 percent of the estimated annual requirement.
This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO and WFP Secretariats with information from official and unofficial sources. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact the undersigned for further information if required.
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