Sudan faces food deficit despite increased production
Despite overall increased cereal production in 2001, 2 million people in Sudan will depend on food assistance this year, according to a recent report issued by FAO and the World Food Programme.
The northern sector of the country increased production by nearly 30 percent compared to 2000. The expansion of planting areas, favourable weather, Government inducement and high cereal prices at planting accounted for the 2001 increase. In the southern sector, despite the civil conflict and insecurity that continued to hamper agricultural activities, production also improved over the previous year, thanks to increased rainfall and better access to fields. However, the report warns that "the sharp fall in sorghum prices in major producing areas could result in financial ruin for farmers and substantial reductions in area planted next year."
High prices, unresolved conflict
According to the report, total cereal production for 2001 is forecast at 4.8 million tonnes, 38 percent more than 2000 and 9 percent above the average of the preceding five years.
This increase is not sufficient, however, as population displacement and insecurity due to internal conflict will result in cereal deficits in several zones of southern Sudan and reduced access to food. Raga, parts of Unity State and parts of Sobat Corridor in Upper Nile State have been particularly affected.
Northern areas will also need assistance. The report notes that "in northern Sudan, parts of North Kordofan, West Kordofan, North Darfur, South Darfur and Red Sea State have suffered crop failures due to erratic weather. For most, this is the third consecutive year of poor harvest." As a result, prices of cereals have remained high, eroding the purchasing power of the population and creating the need for emergency food assistance targeted to the most vulnerable in these areas.
In total, an estimated 155 000 tonnes of food aid are required for about 2 million war-displaced, drought-affected and vulnerable people in the country. Urgent assistance is also needed for provision of seeds and other agricultural inputs before the next cropping season, which begins in June/July 2002 in the North and April/May in the South.
8 February 2002