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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 22-April-2020


  1. Aggregate 2019 cereal production estimated at 5.9 million tonnes, 33 down from 2018 bumper harvest and 15 percent below average

  2. Cereal output affected by reduced plantings, unfavourable weather conditions and pest infestations

  3. Prices of cereals soaring to record levels, supported by currency weakness and tight supplies

  4. According to latest estimates, 5.8 million people severely food insecure

  5. Substantial humanitarian needs for 1.87 million IDPs and 818 000 refugees from South Sudan

Below‑average 2019 cereal production due to reduced plantings, unfavourable weather conditions and pest infestations

The harvest of the 2019 coarse grains (sorghum and millet) crops was completed in December, while the harvest of the small irrigated wheat crop has recently concluded.

According to the findings of the Government‑led Annual Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission, the 2019 aggregate cereal production is estimated at about 5.9 million tonnes, 33 percent below the 2018 bumper harvest and 15 percent below the average of the previous five years. The decline in production is due to a combination of reduced plantings and low yields.

The area planted with sorghum and millet declined in 2019 by about 15 percent compared to 2018 as farmers opted to increase plantings of more remunerative cash crops, including sesame and groundnuts. At the same time, yields were affected by a combination of unfavourable weather conditions and pest attacks. The June‑September rainy season was characterized by an extremely erratic temporal distribution. An early onset of seasonal rains in May and adequate precipitation in June benefited planting activities, but prolonged and widespread dry spells in July resulted in crop wilting, requiring multiple replanting. Subsequently, abundant late‑season rains in August and September, atypically extending into October, benefited crop development, but also triggered widespread floods that resulted in losses of standing crops. The late‑season heavy rains favoured the spread of diseases, weeds and pests, and severe infestations of birds (Quelea Quelea), rodents (rats) and insects, (sorghum midge, desert locusts, brown locusts, grasshoppers) which further constrained crop yields. Notably, in key sorghum producing areas of Gadarif State, sorghum yields were estimated at just 0.37 tonnes per hectare, about 65 percent below the average.

Cereal prices at exceptionally high levels

Prices of sorghum and millet declined by about 5‑10 percent in October 2019 with the start of the 2019 harvest. Subsequently, in late 2019 and early 2020, prices resumed the sustained upward trend that began in late 2017. Price increases accelerated in March 2020 after the Central Bank of Sudan decided to devalue the Sudanese pound from SDG 52 per US dollar in February to SDG 55 per US dollar in March. In March, prices of sorghum, millet and wheat grain were at record levels and between two to three times above the already high levels a year earlier, mainly due to a weak local currency and tight supplies, coupled with fuel shortages and high prices of agricultural inputs that increased production and transportation costs.

Lingering impact of prolonged conflict and major food access constraints severely affect food security

According to the results of the latest IPC analysis, about 5.8 million people (14 percent of the total population) were estimated to be severely food insecure (IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and Phase 4: “Emergency”) in the period June‑August 2019. The figure was the highest on record since the introduction of the IPC in the country and included 4.8 million people in IPC Phase 3: “Crisis” and 1 million people in IPC Phase 4: “Emergency” levels of acute food insecurity. Major concerns were in South Kordofan, Red Sea and the three Darfur states (Central, North and South), where phases 3 and 4 levels of food insecurity prevailed. In these areas, many of which were affected by the lingering impact of prolonged conflicts, more than one‑third of the households were reported to adopt food‑based coping strategies to maintain their minimum food consumption levels. These strategies included eating less preferred food, borrowing money to buy food, limiting portion sizes, reducing the number of meals and reducing adult consumption favouring children. In addition, in Khartoum State, the number of people facing severe acute food insecurity was more than twice than one year earlier, indicating increasingly severe food access constraints for market dependent urban households.

In late 2019 and early 2020, the food security situation has improved marginally as the positive impact of increased availabilities following the 2019 harvest was mostly offset by severe constraints to food access due to exceptionally high food prices.

Humanitarian needs are particularly high for IDPs, estimated in April at 1.87 million people and for refugees from South Sudan, estimated in late February at about 818 000 people.

COVID-19 and measures adopted by the Government

In March 2020, the Government introduced a series of measures aiming to contain the COVID‑19 outbreak, including:

  1. Curfew from 20:00 to 06:00.

  2. Ban of bus travel between states, except for humanitarian, commercial and technical shipments.

  3. Closure of international and domestic airports, except for humanitarian and cargo shipments.

  4. Closure of all schools, colleges, universities and religious institutes.

  5. Cancellation of all festivals, camps and sports events and ban of public gatherings.

On 18 March 2020, the international community launched the Corona Virus – COVID‑19 Country Preparedness and Response Plan (CPRP) to support the Government of the Sudan. The plan, which requires USD 47 million to be implemented, focuses on public health measures and covers a three‑month period.

On 23 March 2020, the Federal Ministry of Health announced a national COVID‑19 response plan at the cost of USD 76 million. COVID‑19 preparedness and response planning are underway at the State level. Most states have established dedicated task forces and developed State‑specific plans. Awareness campaigns are underway, including in the IDP camps in North Darfur and South Darfur states.

On 11 April 2020, the Prime Minister, Dr Abdalla Hamdouk, issued the Emergency Order No. (1) for the year 2020 The order stipulates the punishments contained in the Emergency and Public Safety Act for the year 1979 to be imposed on whoever perpetrates acts including:

  1. Assault on medical and health personnel and cadres assisting them while carrying out their work.

  2. Destruction of health, medical and isolation facilities.

  3. Monopolizing food or medicines or increasing their prices.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. Dashed lines on the maps represent approximate borderlines for which there may not yet be full agreement. The final boundary between the Republic of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan has not yet been determined. The final status of the Abyei area is not yet determined.