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Country Briefs

  South Sudan

Reference Date: 25-September-2018


  1. Food security situation is dire across the country, with 6 million people, about 60 percent of total population requiring urgent humanitarian assistance

  2. Crop production in 2018 expected to recover in some areas from record low levels of 2017 following localized improvements in terms of security

  3. Aggregate 2018 output still forecast at below-average levels due to protracted and widespread conflict

  4. Food prices declining in recent months following appreciation of local currency, but still at very high levels

Food security situation continues to be dire across the country

The limited food availabilities in 2018 following the record low cereal production obtained in 2017, coupled with severe access constraints to markets and high food prices, resulted in a sharp deterioration of an already alarming food insecurity situation. In July, at the peak of the lean season, the food insecure caseload was estimated at 6 million people (about 60 percent of the total population), approximately 20 percent higher than one year earlier, due to persistent conflict, large scale displacements, poor economic conditions and severe constraints to humanitarian access and assistance. Of particular concern is the food security situation in Leer and Mayendit counties (former Unity State), in Duk, Canal/Pigi, Fangak and Pibor counties (former Jonglei State) and in Raga and Wau (Baggari) counties (former Western Bahr el Ghazal State), as the local population has been facing recurrent violence and displacements and has been cut off from humanitarian assistance between mid-April and mid-July due to severe insecurity.

Since the start of the conflict in mid-December 2013, about 4.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to insecurity, including about 2 million IDPs and 2.5 million people that sought refuge in neighbouring countries (Uganda, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya).

Production prospects for 2018 crops generally unfavourable

In southern bi‑modal rainfall areas, harvesting of first season crops was concluded in August. Seasonal rains were generally adequate, except in some areas of former Central Equatoria State and in the Kapoeta Region of the former Eastern Equatoria State, where prolonged dry spells in July affected the maturation of late-planted maize and groundnut crops. The rainy season had a good performance also in most northern and central uni-modal rainfall areas, where harvesting of short cycle sorghum and maize crops has recently started and long cycle sorghum crops will be gathered from November to January. However, in several areas of former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, dry spells in late May and in June affected sorghum crops at germination and early vegetative stages and forced farmers to replant up to three times. In former Jonglei State, dryness in late June and in July caused moisture stress on sorghum crops and is expected to constrain yields.

Despite the generally favourable weather conditions and a slight increase in planted area from the record low levels of 2017 due to localized security improvements, production prospects for 2018 crops are unfavourable due to the prolonged conflict. Widespread insecurity and violence continue to severely affect agricultural activities, constraining access to fields and causing large scale and recurrent displacement of people, as well as damage to households’ productive assets. In addition, poor macro-economic conditions have resulted in shortages and soaring prices of inputs, with prices of seeds and tools recently reported at twice the levels of one year ago. Despite generally low infestation levels, Fall Armyworm outbreaks, mainly affecting maize, are expected to further constrain crop production as most farmers could not afford to buy pesticides and resorted only to traditional practices to control the pest.

Food prices declining, but still very high

In the capital, Juba, prices of maize, sorghum, wheat, cassava and groundnuts, after having continued their sustained upward trend in the first semester of 2018, decreased by 10 to 25 percent between June and August. The price declines were mainly driven by a substantial appreciation of the local currency on the parallel market, from SSP 300 per US dollar in May to SSP 215 per US dollar in mid-August. The strengthening of the local currency is likely due to renewed speculator and investor confidence over the improved political stability and the resumption of oil production following the signing of a peace agreement in late June. Additional downward pressure on food prices was exerted by increased crop availability and reduced prices of imports in neighbouring Uganda following the first season harvest in southern bi-modal rainfall areas. Prices of sorghum and maize in August were 5-10 percent lower than one year earlier, but still about twice their levels in August 2016. Prices of cassava, groundnuts and wheat in August were 15-45 percent higher than 12 months earlier and between two and three times their levels in August 2016. Overall, the high price levels are due to widespread insecurity disrupting transport and trade activities, a tight supply situation, hyperinflation and a still significantly depreciated local currency.

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.