For official use only





An FAO Crop Assessment Mission visited Southern Sudan from 11 September to 5 October, 1996 to estimate production of the 1996 sorghum, maize and millet crops and assess the food supply situation in the area. The Mission visited nine of the ten states of southern Sudan. The Mission received full cooperation from the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and from the Humanitarian Aid Commission at both federal and state levels as well as from concerned Ministries and parastatal organizations. The Mission also consulted with UNICEF both in Kenya and in Khartoum, with WFP and the major international and national NGOs working throughout Southern Sudan. Field visits were made throughout southern Sudan in cooperation with WFP and UNICEF staff at the Nairobi and Khartoum offices.

The Mission estimates the total cereal harvest for 1996 at 473 700 tons, comprising 388 000 tons of sorghum, 85 000 tons of maize and 700 tons of millet. The millet was produced in the mechanized sector in Northern Upper Nile State. Small quantities of millet and rice are also grown in some other states but this has been included in the estimates for sorghum production. The above figures include an estimate of production for Raja Province in West Bahr El-Ghazal state, which could not be visited by the Mission because of logistic constraints.

The 1996 production estimate of 473 700 tons cannot be directly compared with the 224 000 tons reported by the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission of 1995, because of improved reporting this year. Last year’s estimate did not include high producing areas of Western and Eastern Equatoria states and Raja. This year, there was also some increase in the harvest mainly due to larger plantings and above average rainfall in the mechanized areas, which account for one-third of total output, as well as in the important growing areas of Raja and Western Equatoria and El-Buheirat states. Nonetheless, production was reduced by severe flooding, pests and insecurity in some areas, notably in Pibor and Pochalla in Jonglei state, Juba and Gogrial.

Although at the estimated level the 1996 cereal harvest would be sufficient to provide over 100 kg per caput for the population of the ten southern states, (estimated at 4 661 500 persons) the practical difficulties arising from the current civil insecurity and poor infrastructure make it virtually impossible to move the grain from surplus to deficit areas. Roads and bridges are in precarious condition after 13 years of conflict. Thus, for areas which will have significant deficit of grain such as Juba, Gogrial, and parts of Jonglei State, including Pochalla and Pibor, transport of surplus production from Western Equatoria and Upper Nile states will be not possible. However, while in Pibor, animal products cover an important part of the food needs and the cattle population is rising after the abundant rains of this year, few coping mechanisms are available in Gogrial and Juba (with a population of about 500 000), where insecurity has resulted in cattle raiding and in high unemployment due to a reduced economic activity. The food situation is critical in these areas and food aid assistance is needed to avoid a further deterioration in the nutritional status of the population.


Southern Sudan is divided into three regions and ten states as shown below:

Region States State Capital
Equatoria: Bahr El-Jebel Juba

Eastern Equatoria Torit

Western Equatoria Yambio
Upper Nile Upper Nile Malakal

Jonglei Bor

Unity Bentiu
Bahr El-Ghazal West Bahr El-Ghazal Raja

North Bahr El-Ghazal Aweil

El-Buheirat Rumbek

Warrab Warrab

After examining all available statistics on the population of Southern Sudan, from Government and non governmental sources, the Mission considers that the figure of 4 662 000 people is the most accurate estimate.

Southern States include areas of mechanized agriculture in the Upper Nile state, mainly in Renk and, to a lesser extent in Malakal, where large schemes/holdings are found and productivity is substantially above the rest of the region. Cereal production from these areas account for one-third of the total production and surpluses obtained are mainly directed to markets in northern parts of the country. Agriculture in the rest of the southern states is rainfed. Apart from ox-draught used in the Chukudum area of Eastern Equatoria state and in few other isolated places, crops are cultivated manually.

Before the civil war that has affected the region since 1983, it was estimated that two thirds of the population derived their living from pastoralism, supplemented by limited cropping of sorghum. The disruption of production and marketing caused by the war has resulted in an intensification of the subsistence agriculture and a decline of the livestock numbers. The main agricultural areas are in the Equatoria region, particularly the "Green Belt" in the south of Western Equatoria state which receive higher rainfall. Western Equatoria state is a surplus cereal area as it is the Upper Nile state, which is also important for livestock. Recent studies by Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) show that current consumption patterns vary greatly throughout Southern Sudan. While in Upper Nile and Jonglei States, cereals provide one-quarter or less of the food requirements, in Western Equatoria State they cover 85 percent of the food needs. Meat and milk, fish and wild food account for the remainder of the food consumption. In areas of Western Equatoria, mainly Tambura, cassava is a staple food. Groundnuts are also an important crop in both Western and Eastern Equatoria.


Area Planted

As no official estimates for maize and sorghum plantings exist in southern Sudan, the Mission’s estimates are based on the information available from UNICEF/OLS, international NGOs, locally based agricultural staff and field visits. The area planted to cereals in the mechanized sector of Upper Nile state increased 12 percent compared with 1995, in response to higher sorghum prices. In the traditional sector plantings are estimated to be similar or larger than last year as a result of the good start of the rains; however, quantitative comparisons are difficult to make because of under-reporting in 1995.


In most areas of Southern Sudan, the main rains start in late March/early April and continued until October. Short season varieties of sorghum and maize are planted twice a year. The first planting takes place in April and harvesting is in July. The second planting is from July with harvesting from November onwards. In most of the north Upper Nile state, as in the rest of the Sudan, there is only one crop; the main planting rains fall in July and August and harvesting start in November. Long season sorghum varieties are grown in this State.

In 1996, rainfall was generally good over most areas. The large mechanized sector in Renk received adequate precipitation. In Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and North Bahr El-Ghazal, rains began on time but there was a dry period during the latter half of June and all of July, forcing some farmers to replant. However, the dry period was followed by exceptionally heavy rains in August and September. These coincided with the flowering period of late sown sorghum reducing grain formation in some parts. Small areas of bulrush millet were also adversely affected by the unusually abundant precipitation and were subject to aphid and other pests and fungal diseases. In Jonglei State, heavy rains since May, particularly in the Pibor and Pochalla areas, resulted in floods and crop losses. In the Upper Nile State, the rains continued into September in the Sobat Basin, leading also to flooding along the Sobat and in the Akobo area, and causing a crop loss of about 30 percent. Despite these localized crop losses and reductions in yield potential, the heavy rains during the season allowed the recovery of first planted crops which were stressed by previous dry weather and benefited the second plantings. Overall, this year’s abundant rains had a favourable impact on food production.

The exceptional rains in August and September gave rise to high level of sorghum leaf blight infestations, notably in the Juba area. Pests such as sorghum midge caused severe damage to ripening sorghum. Stalk borer damage was universal and particularly severe in the Ikotos area of Eastern Equatoria and in the Kapoeta and Juba areas. Bird damage was very serious on early planted crops along the Nile, where the birds live in the reeds. In some areas, notably Terekeka, north of Juba and in many other areas along the Nile, farmers are reducing their sorghum areas due to fear of bird damage and are increasing areas under maize. Crops in Akop area of Bahr El-Ghazal and in the Nhialdiu area of Unity State were severely damaged by birds. Striga infestation is also a major problem in sorghum in several areas, especially in the exhausted lands around Juba, where it has reached the stage at which it is not advisable to plant sorghum at all, as little yield can be expected.

Lack of labour because of the persistent conflict is a major constraint on crop production, with many households being headed by women.

Agricultural inputs such as seeds and hand tools are provided by UNICEF, FAO, and a large number of Non-Governmental Organizations. Over 733 tons of various seeds were provided to the Juba area alone, 187 tons were distributed in Malakal and a further 700 tons were distributed throughout other areas of Southern Sudan. Large quantities of hand tools were also supplied.

The local economy in southern Sudan has been destroyed by the continuing insecurity and the main source of hand tools is now the UN system and international NGOs. Following the relatively good harvest in many parts of Southern Sudan in 1995, farmers also had ample supplies of their own seed, which, in many cases, was substituted by them for seed provided by the donor community.

Overall, yields in 1996 are estimated to be higher than in the previous year, reflecting good production in the most important growing areas, with an average of 550 kg of cereals per hectare. There are, however, great variations according to states. In Eastern Equatoria state (Chukudum area) and in the Western Equatoria State (Green Belt areas), yields are expected to be high at 1076 kg per hectare. Yields will be less in those areas such as Bahr El-Ghazal and Upper Nile which have been subject to insecurity and crop losses caused by heavy rains, prolonged flooding and serious pest and disease attack.

Cereal Production in 1996

The Mission estimate production of all cereals in the Southern States at 473 700 tons from a harvested area of 862 300 hectares. This estimate cannot be directly compared with the 224 000 tons reported by the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission of 1995, because of improved reporting this year. Last year’s estimate did not include high producing areas of Western and Eastern Equatoria states and Raja. There was also an increase in this year’s harvest, with a 68 percent increase in production in the mechanized sector and higher outputs in the other important agricultural areas, more than compensating crop losses to floods in Jonglei State, Juba, Gogrial and other areas.

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

Table 1: Cereal Production in Southern Sudan, 1996

Sector/State. Sorghum Maize & Millet Total

Area (Ha) Prod. (Tons) Area (Ha) Prod. (Tons) Prod. (Tons)
Total Mechanised 240 685 154 677 5 670 4 300 158 977
Upper Nile State

- Renk 183 592 117 449 5 670 4 300 121 749
- Malakal 1 967 1 672

1 672
- Melut 12 448 8 029

8 029
- Tayara 42 678 27 527

27 527
Total Traditional 464 564 233 347 151 400 81 400 314 747
Western Equatoria 49 193 48 920 21 100 21 300 70 220
Bahr El-Jebel 45 666 22 034 5 100 2 400 24 434
Eastern Equatoria 51 444 23 594 34 200 16 000 39 594
Jonglei 56 481 20 452 10 000 3 100 23 552
Upper Nile 33 525 15 838 14 400 6 900 22 738
Unity State 32 032 10 272 13 700 4 500 14 772
El-Buheirat 68 468 36 699 29 300 15 900 52 599
Warrab 29 762 16 069 12 700 6 900 22 969
West Bahr El-Ghazal 48 744 23 604 5 400 2 600 26 204
North Bahr El-Ghazal 49 249 15 865 5 500 1 800 17 665
GRAND TOTAL 705 249 388 024 157 070 85 700 473 724


Livestock is an important activity throughout Southern Sudan. The main cattle producing areas are the western provinces of the Upper Nile State, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, and parts of Bahr El-Ghazal States. This year’s high rainfall will ensure that there is exceptionally good browse and grazing for cattle and small stock. Milk yields are also anticipated to improve as a result of better grazing. Cattle numbers are very high in Western Upper Nile province and no major veterinary problems are reported. Surplus grain this year in El-Buheirat State are providing the means to purchase further livestock to increase food security. Livestock numbers are also reported to be rising rapidly in the west of the Nile in Yirol, Rumbek areas, as well as in Tonj in the Warrab State. By contrast, in North Bahr El-Ghazal cattle raiding has further impoverished many farmers who could not plant or tend crops due to constant insecurity. This problem was considered to be particularly acute in the area around Gogrial of the Warrab State and in the Thiekthou area of North Bahr El-Ghazal State. Brucellosis was reported to be serious in the Duar and Nhialdiu area of Unity State.


Fishing is likely to be good in the main rivers this year due to high rainfall both in Southern Sudan and neighbouring Ethiopia.


Despite the increase in this year’s food production, the collapse of the transport infrastructure and the prevailing insecurity in several areas will prevent the surpluses produced in the rich agricultural areas of Western Equatoria state and in parts of the Upper Nile state to be moved to cereal deficits areas like Jonglei State or the Juba area.

While there is an overall improvement in the food supply situation of Southern Sudan, the situation varies greatly according to the outturn of the harvest, the consumption patterns, and the coping mechanisms in different areas. In parts where a good cereal harvest was obtained, an improvement in the food situation is anticipated. In several other areas, despite a reduced harvest this year, increased livestock production will permit farmers to cover part of their food requirements with animal products and by purchasing food. However, in places where the crop was poor and no other coping mechanisms are available the food situation will remain tight and food aid assistance will be required.

Table 2 shows production by State and locations as well as estimated per caput cereal availability in 1996.

Table 2: Southern States- Population and Estimate of Cereal Production Deficits 1/

State/location Population Total Area Cultivated Yield (kg/ha) Production
Per caput
Per caput
Cereal as%
of food needs

Upper Nile

Malakal Mech. 1 967 850 1 672

189 262 643 121 749

12 448 645 8 029

42 678 645 27 527


Western Equatoria

Tambura 140 000 19 526 1 076 21 010 150 124 85
Yambio 100 000 13 947 1 076 15 000 150 124 85
Maridi 144 000 20 084 1 076 21 610 150 124 85
Mundri 120 000 16 736 753 12 600 105 73 50
Bahr El-Jebel

Yei 80 000 17 084 645 11 019 138 124 85
Kajo-Keji 60 000 10 460 645 6 750 113 124 85
Juba 145 000 15 167 151 2 290 16 51 35
Terakeka 66 000 8 054 543 4 375 66 51 35
Eastern Equatoria

Torit 98 000 17 085 430 7 350 75 58 40
Kapoeta 168 500 11 795 215 2 526 15 15 10
Chukudum 152 600 26 604 645 17 160 112 58 40
Ikotos 92 000 16 039 215 3 450 38 58 40
Magwe 81 000 14 121 645 9 108 112 92 63

Pibor 84 000 11 715 54 633 8 37 25
Pochalla 18 500 3 870 54 209 11 51 35
Bor 153 800 26 813 430 11 530 75 30 20
Phou 50 000 3 486 215 749 15 51 35
Waat 95 000 6 650 215 1 430 15 51 35
Akobo 100 000 13 947 645 9 000 90 30 20
Úpper Nile

Ngdr/Ob'l/C'n'l 19 700 3 434 645 2 215 112 30 20
Sobat 110 000 15 342 430 6 600 60 30 20
Nile Valley 170 000 23 710 538 12 756 75 30 20
Malakal 91 000 5 439 215 1 167 13 30 20

Unity 437 200 45 732 323 14 772 34 30 20

Yirol 250 000 43 584 538 23 448 94 73 50
Rumbek 310 800 54 184 538 29 151 94 73 50

Tonj 105 000 18 305 538 9 848 94 73 50
Gogrial 346 000 24 156 215 13 121 38 73 50
West Bahr El-Ghazal

Wau 200 000 27 894 430 12 000 60 73 50
Raja 150 000 26 250 538 14 204 95

North Bahr El-Ghazal

Awiel 523 400 54 749 323 17 665 34 73 50
TOTAL 4 661 500 862 318 550 473 724 102

1/ Derived from studies done by WFP Food Economy Analysis Unit over recent years, and data from UNICEF/OLS, international NGOs and locally based agricultural staff.

Surplus or self-sufficiency in cereals in 1996/97 are estimated in all growing areas of Western Equatoria State, in most areas of Bahr El-Jebel, in most areas of the Eastern Equatoria state, and in all areas of Upper Nile, the Unity and El-Buhairat states. Cereal deficit areas include the Jonglei State where the cereal production was sharply reduced by floods and insecurity; while this is an important cattle area, the food situation of the vulnerable population is anticipated to be serious, particularly in Pibor and Pochalla, affected by extremely severe damage to crops.

Production of cereals was sharply reduced by stalk borer infestation in Ikotos, Eastern Equatoria but despite the deficit in grains the area had a good production of other cash crops. Serious food deficits are also anticipated in eastern Aiwal in North Bahr El-Ghazal State where crops were reduced by dry spell and insecurity. Worst affected areas are Juba and Gogrial. In Juba, insecurity and flooding resulted in crop failure. The area within a 50 km radius of Juba is insecure and there is little trade by land with the hinterland of the city, which means that markets have to be supplied either from the exhausted soils around Juba or by barge and river transport from the North. Alternative coping strategies, such as collecting firewood, making and selling charcoal and cutting roofing thatch are being implemented by many people in Juba in order to make enough money to survive, but prices of these items are already declining due to large supply and little effective demand. Fishing on the Nile is not a viable option as the river flows very fast at Juba and catching fish is difficult. Employment possibilities for the vast majority of affected people remain bleak, while many people do not have any livestock. In Gogrial, farmers’ activities were disrupted by insecurity and most of the cattle were stolen.


The civil strife has devastated the economy of Southern Sudan, interrupting traditional trade routes and destroying markets. Few formal markets, in which money is used for exchange, exist in Southern Sudan outside the main towns of Juba, Wau and Malakal. Most of those which do exist are used for the sale through barter of tobacco and dried okra, with beer and honey in the better off areas of Western Equatoria. Hence it was difficult for the mission to gather information on prices in much of the area outside the main towns. In Juba, prices for sorghum were 1 000 Sudanese pounds per kilogram, compared to 300 Sudanese pounds per kilogram at the same time in 1995. The increase in prices reflects the poor harvest in 1996 and the lack of trade from the surrounding countryside. By contrast, in Malakal, prices were much lower than last year’s due to better crops in the hinterland and easier trading conditions with farmers living in the vicinity of the town. However, the wages of a labourer in Government service vary from 10 000 - 15 200 Sudanese Pounds per month, putting the purchase of adequate basic staple foods well beyond the reach of the majority of the population.


Eastern Equatoria

Generally good rains, sufficient inputs and reasonable security contributed to high yields of crops in Eastern Equatoria State, with an especially good production being reported from the important growing Chukudum area in the Didinga Hills. By contrast, in the Taposa lands around Kapoeta, adequate early rains were followed by a dry spell in July and by subsequent exceptionally heavy rains in August. The heavy rains and high pest infestation, with strong growth of weeds resulted in sharply reduced yields compared to the previous year. However, the crop loss has been offset by improved grazing and browse for the estimated 3.5 million cattle in the Taposa areas around and north of Kapoeta. Production in Ikotos and Imatong areas benefited from relative security but production is expected to be reduced by severe stalk borer infestation.

Little information was available about the crop situation in Lafon and Lopit areas, due to inaccessibility of the airstrips there. Pearl millet, grown on the plains around the Lopit mountains is a major staple. Fungal and pest infestations brought by the heavy rains in 1996 may have caused yield reductions in this crop.

Western Equatoria

Western Equatoria had another good agricultural year, with high yields of sorghum and maize, particularly in Yambio and Maridi areas. Production in Tambura was below the record level of the previous year but still good. The reduction in the yield potential was caused by a pronounced dry period which occurred in late June and July and which affected maize and groundnuts crops. Sorghum crops are expected to yield well. Labour shortage was a major constraint in the Tambura area. Cassava, a staple food in the area was damaged by wild animals. A small amount of rice is grown in southern Tambura and Yambio, mainly for home consumption and the crop was in good condition.

In northern Mundri area, Striga infestation without adequate control means was reported to have caused serious damage to sorghum crops. Insecurity in Eastern Mundri and, recently, in Maridi and Tambura may reduce farming productivity from current high levels.

El-Buheirat (Lakes) State

Good crops of sorghum, maize and groundnuts were reported from the Akot area of Lakes State. However, in northern parts, drought was reported to have caused crop failure, with livestock also suffering from water stress caused by drying up of wells. In Rumbek and Yirol areas, crops were reported to be very good this year allowing farmers to trade grain for cattle at favourable prices, as the terms of trade for grain vis-à-vis cattle and other livestock have continued to rise during the conflict.

Jonglei State

Flooding which occurred in July damaged maize, sorghum and sesame crops in the Bor area. Flooding also hampered the normal movement of cattle in this area, effectively preventing the planting of second crops of maize and groundnuts. Flooding also caused damage to some first crops of maize and groundnuts, with the result that this year's harvest will be much smaller than the previous year.

The Pibor and Pochalla areas of Jonglei province were flooded by heavy rains coming in from Ethiopia in May. These floods destroyed crops in the field and prevented replanting. The Mission estimates that an average household in Pochalla and Pibor will only produce 11 kg and 8 kg of grain per caput respectively, leaving a large shortfall to be made up by trading cattle and relief assistance. Access to Pochalla, Boma and Pibor has been limited in recent months and details of the food situation in those areas were not available to the Mission from the Jonglei capital, Bor. Cattle and other livestock will benefit from the improved browse and grazing available as a result of the heavy rainfall. The cattle population in the Pibor area is estimated at over 1.5 million, with a human population estimated at 84 000.

Continuing insecurity was reported to have reduced planted areas in the Ayod, Yuai and Waat areas.

In the Akobo area, widespread flooding from heavy local rains in late September was reported to have caused the loss of approximately 30 per cent of food crops.

Upper Nile State

In the mechanized sector in Renk, Melut and Tayara, sorghum plantings rose 12 percent from 1995 to an estimated 238 700 hectares this year. Some 85 per cent of the area is expected to yield 645 kg per hectare, compared to 430 kg per hectare last year. Maize is a minor crop in the mechanized sector, with an estimated 4 200 hectares grown. Pearl millet is also a minor crop with a total of 1 470 hectares grown in the mechanized sector in Renk. In the traditional sector, cropped areas and yields have also risen sharply and a very good harvest is expected. Flooding may, however, have caused some damage to crops growing on low lying areas.

In the Malakal area, good rains fell at the main planting time in July and there was ample availability of seed of the short season local sorghum cultivar Lwal and the long season cultivar Agono, which is well adapted to the area in that it has considerable resistance to waterlogging. Seed availability was improved by a barter scheme managed by the UNICEF Household Food Security Adviser and by seed donations by FAO, UNICEF and various NGOs. Yields in the Nagdiar and Baliet area are estimated at 645 kg per hectare, considerably higher than the 215 kg/ha obtained in 1995.

Good crops of sorghum were observed in Nagdiar, along the Sobat river and earlier crops of maize, more than half of which is eaten green, have yielded more than 1 ton per hectare. However, heavy rains in September resulted in localized flooding in the Akobo area, where losses of foodcrops are estimated at about 30 percent. Along the Sobat and other rivers, where second crops are grown, the maize crop will benefit from the high water levels.

Livestock numbers are high and increasing rapidly, favoured by the good pasture and adequate water supplies. Food security is also helped by plentiful fish in the Sobat, Akobo and Pibor rivers.

Unity State

There was serious flooding in August in the Mankien, Duar and Nyaldieu areas of Unity State affecting crops of maize and sorghum in very low lying land close to the river. Higher land, which would normally be used for cropping, has had to be abandoned due to fighting and general insecurity. The Nhialdiu area had become a surplus producing area in recent years, but the higher than usual floods this year destroyed crops of maize. Birds were reported to have caused severe damage to sorghum in this area too.

The large cattle herds in the area are expected to benefit from the better than average grazing and browse available as a result of the high rainfall.

North Bahr El-Ghazal State

Widespread insecurity in parts of North Bahr El-Ghazal prevented farmers from planting their usual area of land. Rains began on time but there was a dry period during the latter half of June and all of July, forcing some farmers to replant. However, the dry period was followed by exceptionally heavy rains in August, which resulted in floods and localized losses of sorghum. Towards the west of North Bahr El-Ghazal rainfall was better and with improved security in the western Aweil and Nyamlell areas, crop production was well up to the levels of the previous year. In eastern Aweil, however, the dry spell in June and July caused poor germination of sorghum. The area planted was sharply reduced by insecurity and in many cases crops were only grown around houses; fields far from houses had to be abandoned. Overall, it is estimated that food production in this State will cover only 1-2 months of requirements. Substantial food aid assistance during 1997 will be required in this area.

West Bahr El-Ghazal State

Good crops are also expected in Raja where plantings and yields increased from the level of 1995. In Panthou, Turalei, Mapel and Malualakon dry weather early in the season affected foodcrops, but subsequent late rains allowed a partial recovery. Delays in food aid deliveries due to insecurity have adversely affected food security in the State.

Warrab State

Warrab State includes Tonj and Gogrial counties. Gogrial is badly affected by insecurity, with various militias causing much disruption to farming activities. Cattle raiding has impoverished the people and prevented them from farming normally. As a result, the area planted and yields obtained are substantially below last year’s level

The situation in Tonj is expected to be much better, with each household having an average of over one hectare of land planted to sorghum and average yields of 538 kg/ha. Cattle numbers are high in the Tonj area, with good grazing available.

Bahr El-Jebel State.

Juba is a special case within Southern Sudan in that it is a relatively large city with an estimated population of 145 000. This compares with the pre-civil war population of 350 000. Juba has always been a net food importer, getting its supplies of cereals from Western and Eastern Equatoria and cassava from the green belt districts of Yei, Kajo-keji and Maridi. In recent years the security zone has been extended to about 50 km around the city. The majority of the city's inhabitants have a backyard garden within city limits. They maintain a farm often ten or more kilometres outside the city to which they have to walk each day for they cannot remain overnight due to lack of security. Farming in this way, without public transport and subject to various security rules, gives farmers only a very short time in the fields. Essential tasks such as weeding and bird scaring cannot be effectively carried out and yield suffers as a result. The amount of land that can be tilled is also severely limited under these conditions. Many families are headed by women, who have even less time to farm than men.

The rains began on time, or slightly earlier than usual, in March. They continued until late May, when there was a dry period varying from one week to over four weeks. Many farmers did not plant early due to fear of bird damage in June and July, with the result that late sown sorghum was quickly affected by drought, which in many cases, destroyed the crop. Crops which were not destroyed were damaged at the flowering stage by a very heavy rain period in early August when a total of 107 mm of rainfall was recorded in Juba over four days. Rainfall, however, was erratic around Juba, with areas quite near the city not receiving a fraction of the above rainfall, resulting in crop failure.

The sorghum crop was also seriously affected by Striga, which is now endemic in the area around Juba. Sorghum has been grown continuously on the same fields for over ten and sometimes twenty years with the result that Striga has become so strong that only alternative crops, such as cassava and sweet potatoes, will alleviate striga infestations. However, planting material of these crops is in short supply.

As a result of the failure of the first season sorghum crop, prices of the main cereals and pulses in the Juba market in late September were more than triple the previous year’s levels.


The major reason for the poor state of the economy in the south is the insecurity, which has persisted since 1983. Thousands of farmers have been displaced from their lands, cattle raiding is common and the law and order situation is serious in large parts of the territory. Under these conditions, it is difficult to implement rehabilitation programmes. Nevertheless, progress can be made continuing the initiatives in the provision of agricultural inputs, which are in short supply in Southern Sudan, and technical assistance to farmers for improving cultivation methods.

This report is prepared on the responsibility of the FAO Secretariat with information from official and unofficial sources and is for official use only. Since conditions may change rapidly, please contact Mr. Abdur Rashid, Chief, ESCG, FAO, (Telex 610181 FAO I; Fax: 0039-6-5225-4495, E-Mail (INTERNET): [email protected]) for further information if required.

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