22 December 1997

Mission Highlights 
  • The 1997/98 cereal production is forecast to decline from last year's record level but overall food supplies are exepcted to be adequate due to high levels of carryover stocks. 

  • Severe food deficits are anticipated in the South where production declined by 45 percent due to dry weather and civil strife, and in parts of the Western regions of North Darfur and North Kordofan where this year’s cereal production is the third consecutive reduced crop. 

  • Relief food aid estimated at 57 000 tons of cereals is needed for 2.4 million displaced and drought-affected people in the South and Western states. 

  • Food aid requirements expected largely to be procured locally, except for limited amounts to be imported for the South, due to internal logistics constraints. 

  • Due to widespread crop losses in the South and parts of North Darfur and North Kordofan, there is also an urgent need for seeds for the next planting season. 



An FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission visited Sudan from 15 November to 5 December 1997 to estimate sorghum and millet production from the current harvests and to make an early forecast of wheat production from areas now being planted. Based on these production estimates and forecasts and an assessment of carryover stocks, the Mission assessed the 1997/98 cereal situation, including national import requirements and food aid needs.

The Mission benefited from the full cooperation of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF), which also assigned two senior Ministry staff to accompany the Mission. Statistical data were also provided by the Ministry Headquarters in Khartoum. By dividing into three groups, the Mission was able to visit 23 of the 26 states, including the South, where, despite the difficulties of access, a special attempt was made to cover the region fully, in view of early reports of drought and crop failure in the region. Local information on the state of cereal crops was obtained from the State Ministries and from offices at provincial level. Good cooperation was also received from Sudan’s Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) and two staff accompanied the team in its field work. Detailed information packs (on rainfall, prices, populations, etc.) were prepared for the Mission by the local offices of both FAO and WFP, while NGOs working in particular regions also provided their own assessments and forecasts of the crop and food situation. The Mission had numerous and fruitful discussions with both farmers and traders; this grass-roots information was essential for cross-checking, verifying and modifying crop situation reports generated by official sources, and for interpreting remote sensing data provided by FAO, Rome.

The Mission forecasts total cereal production at 4.64 million tons in 1997/98 comprising 3.39 million tons of sorghum, 0.57 million tons of millet, 0.63 million tons of wheat (to be harvested in April 1998) and a relatively small amount of maize (0.05 million tons) mainly produced in the South. Compared with last year’s record harvest, total cereal production is down by 14 percent, with sorghum 20 percent lower, millet 27 percent higher and wheat 2 percent down. Production of all three cereals is above the five-year benchmark average of 1988/89-1992/93. Sorghum output is the third highest of the last five years and millet is the second highest (after the 1994/95 bumper year).

The total cereal output of 4.64 million tons will be less than the total cereal consumption requirement for 1997/98, after allowing for losses, seed and other uses. However, due to the exceptional sorghum crop last year and the national ban on sorghum exports during 1997, the carryover stocks at the end of October 1997 are at high levels, estimated by the Mission at 900 000 tons (mostly sorghum). Some drawdown of these stocks will be necessary to meet national food requirements.

The overall food outlook for 1997/98 is therefore favourable but in the South, North Darfur and North Kordofan food deficit problems will occur. The situation is most serious in the South where cereal production is estimated to be down by 45 percent on last year (excluding Renk). Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Bahr El Jebel and Bahr El Ghazal are the most affected States, where the first season crop was lost due to the prolonged early drought. Some long season sorghum crops survived but yields will be low. Insecurity has again disrupted farming activities in Bahr el Ghazal and parts of Jonglei. Logistical problems and insecurity will also limit the amount of food which can be moved into the region (even from the Renk scheme in Upper Nile). The Mission estimates that some 60 to 70 per cent of the population in Eastern Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal, Lakes, parts of Jonglei state and the transitional zones will need emergency food assistance for three to six months in 1998. It is estimated that 915 500 persons affected by a reduced harvest will require 30 000 tons of food commodities, to be supplied through WFP, Nairobi. In addition, 34 000 tons of relief food assistance will be required for 1.3 million displaced people in the South, transitional zone and Khartoum displaced camps.

In North Darfur, crop failure has occurred due to drought in Umm Keddada, Mellit and Kutum, and food shortages are already evident. Millet prices are high and livestock prices are falling. Even though millet production in North Darfur as a whole is better than last year, many people in these two provinces are unlikely to be able to purchase their food needs, and interventions will be necessary. The Mission estimates that 180 000 people will require 9 530 tons of emergency food assistance between April and September 1998 in North Darfur. A further 14 000 people affected by floods and civil conflict in southern Tokar may need 300 tons of food assistance for between three to six months.

The situation in North Kordofan also gives cause for concern. Production is better than last year but the State is still in deficit and the value of cash crops and livestock has fallen. In particular, the provinces of Sodari and Bara have suffered widespread crop failure and access to adequate food supplies will be difficult in the second half of the year. WFP, SCF-UK and CARE have a continuing food supply programme in North Kordofan.


The total area planted and harvested are similar to last year but yields are lower, mainly due to a dry spell in September which affected most of the country. In the South, the drought was earlier and longer, causing first season crops to fail and cereal production to be well down on 1996.

Sorghum plantings were affected by the economics of the crop as perceived by commercial farmers in July 1997. The record sorghum crop last year, coupled with a sluggish domestic demand due to tight monetary policies and a ban on sorghum exports, resulted in high stock levels and relative low prices at planting. The outlook for prices was generally considered to be poor in July 1997 because of the overhang of stocks and this proved to be the case, with prices remaining unusually static through the season right up to harvest in November 1997. In addition, input costs were rising (fuel, fertilizers) and the credit situation deteriorated. Rainfed sorghum producers reduced the areas planted from last year’s high levels (especially in Gedaref, Renk and Kordofan) and there were greater losses of areas between planting and harvest than in 1996. In Gedaref alone, plantings fell by an estimated 500 000 hectares and even in the traditional sector the planted area was reduced. The irrigated sorghum area was similar to last year.

The early rains were generally favourable and sorghum crops established well. Pest problems have been very limited this year, although nearer harvest, bird damage has been more severe in many areas. Striga has been serious in the drought-affected areas. The dry September has been a negative feature of most rainfed crops, being most severe in the areas from north of Gedaref through Butana, Sennar, Kosti, Umm Ruwaba, North Kordofan and North Darfur. Sorghum yields in these areas are well below average. Other areas also had dry spells in September but this was partly compensated by late rains in October and even early November; for example, sorghum yields in Damazin, Renk, SamSam and South Kordofan were all boosted by late precipitation. Overall, rainfed sorghum production is down by 24 percent from 1996. The irrigated sector is also down on last year (by 15 percent) but this is due to water delivery problems in Gezira, White Nile and Blue Nile. Expanded use of improved varieties in the irrigated schemes has benefited yields but financial problems in the privatized pump schemes have had a negative effect.

Total sorghum production is estimated at 3.39 million tons, down by nearly 20 percent from 1996 but is still well above the 1988/89-1992/93 average and close to the average for the past four years. The harvest is running slightly late compared with a year ago. Prices have been stable during the growing season and have not dipped significantly during harvest. Currently, sorghum is selling at Sudanese pounds (LS) 17 000-20 000/sack or close to the world price, although exports are still banned.

Millet production has, by contrast, increased from last year’s low levels. The rainfall pattern in the millet producing areas of the West has been significantly better than last year and pest damage is much less. The areas planted to millet increased by 22 percent over 1996, mainly due to improved early rains but also because millet prices were high and the stocks held by farmers were generally low, following two poor harvests. Land abandonment between planting and harvesting were less than last year and the total area harvested was some 30 percent higher. Yields of millet were seriously affected by the September drought in parts of North Darfur and North Kordofan and national average yields per harvested hectare were 10 percent lower than 1996. Millet production in total is therefore well up on last year (by 28 percent at 568 000 tons) due entirely to larger areas harvested. But there are still important local pockets where production is negligible and food deficits are likely. In Kutum, Umm Keddada and Mellit in North Darfur and in Sodari and Bara in North Kordofan, the millet crop has again failed and food and seed shortages will be severe. But, of perhaps more importance to the deficit millet areas, is the fact that prices for the cash crops and livestock are well down on last year. Poor domestic demand (as a result of the general recession) for groundnuts, sesame, kurkadeh and melon seed has led to low prices, and the weak export market for gum Arabic and for livestock has reduced prices for commodities usually sold by farmers in the West to replenish low food grain stocks. Although millet production is significantly higher than last year in all areas, there are still severe deficits and the terms of trade for millet purchases have become unfavourable. Current millet prices are LS 28 000 to LS 33 000 per sack.

For most of the Sudan, the main factor limiting yields this year was a widespread dry spell in September. In the northern parts of Darfur and Kordofan, the drought started in late August but in areas further south and east the dry spell was later and shorter. The central-east area of Kosti, Sennar, Butana and north Gedaref were particularly badly affected, and rainfed sorghum yields are down. Striga was also a problem in these areas and some crops also suffered bird damage at harvest. However, in other areas such as Renk, Damazin and South Kordofan, there were late rains in October and early November, which benefited drought-affected sorghum crops and improved yields.

Wheat prospects in the irrigated areas are good. The planted area in the north will increase as a result of attractive prices, adequate supplies of fuel and a major pump scheme rehabilitation programme initiated by government but partly financed by farmers. In the irrigation schemes of Gezira, Rahad and New Halfa, wheat plantings will be lower than last year as marginal areas are removed from wheat and switched to sorghum (13 000 hectares for Rahad alone), with a concentration on the better areas for wheat. The planting campaign for wheat is slightly behind schedule in most areas but there seems every prospect of planting and irrigating 300 000 hectares by 31 December 1997 - 6 percent lower than 1996/97. Seed, fertilizer and fuel supplies are in place and, provided the temperatures are at average levels, yield prospects for wheat are favourable. Bearing in mind that some of the marginal areas are now taken out of wheat production, yields are expected to be higher than last year, and production is forecast at 626 000 tons - similar to 1996/97 and some 21 percent above the 1988/89-1992/93 average. This, of course, is still well below national requirements and substantial imports will continue to be required.

Much government emphasis has been given in recent years to increasing wheat production in the Sudan in order to reduce import dependence, and this year again strenuous efforts were made to ensure the provision of adequate fuel, seed and fertilizer for the November-December planting season. Prices have also been fairly attractive and, in the north especially, farmers have been keen to expand. However, in the irrigation schemes of Rahad, Gezira and (to a lesser extent) New Halfa, plantings of wheat will be down. Water availability for winter wheat in Gezira was uncertain until late in the season when the Blue Nile rose due to late heavy rains in Ethiopia. The normal area for wheat was consequently reduced by 27 000 hectares in Gezira. In Rahad (which is less adopted for wheat but better for sorghum), there was a switch of 13 000 hectares out of wheat but with a concentration of the crop on the better suited areas. The pump schemes in North and Nile states have all increased wheat this year, mainly by expanding the area irrigated. All necessary inputs are in place and the wheat crop should benefit from an irrigation rehabilitation scheme which will improve pumping and delivery systems. Compared with last year, progress on wheat cultivation, planting and first irrigation is slightly later but the work should all be complete for the 300 000 hectare crop by the end of December. Given average winter temperatures, yields should be slightly higher than last year due to a greater use of improved varieties and an increased fertilizer use, plus a concentration on the better land in Rahad and Gezira. The Mission’s tentative forecast is for a crop of 626 000 tons, close to last year’s figure and well above the five-year base (1988/89-1992/93). At this level and after allowing for seed retention and waste, the domestic wheat crop would meet nearly 60 percent of national consumption needs.

Total cereal production for 1997/98 is forecast at 4.64 million tons (including 52 000 tons of maize, mainly from the South) or 14 percent less than last year’s record harvest, but 20 percent more than the average for the five-year base period (1988/89-1992/93). Table 1 shows the forecast production by State and sector with comparisons to the last year. Table 2 indicates areas and yields over a longer time period.

Despite reasonable food supplies overall, the situation in the South is already serious and will deteriorate rapidly. Excluding Renk (which normally supplies very little to the Southern Region), production in the South is 45 percent down on last year and severe shortages are occurring in Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Bahr El Jebel and Bahr El Ghazal. In the west of the country, food shortages are already evident in North Darfur (especially the provinces of Umm Keddada, Kutum and Mellit) and in pockets of North Kordofan.

Table 1. Cereal Production Forecast for 1997/98 ('000 tons), and Comparison with 1996/97
Sorghum  Millet  Wheat  Total Grains 1/ 
1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98  1996/97  1997/98  1997/98 over 1996/97 
Northern  22  11  190  228  212  238  12
Nile  117  66  86  120  203  186  -8
Blue Nile  48  39  48  39  -19
White Nile  38  33  27  17  65  50  -23
Gezira &Managil  465  415  270  221  735  635  -14
Rahad  106  143  19  10  125  153  22
Suki  21  36  22  37  72
New Halfa  41  46  35  27  76  73  -4
Gash  25  51  25  51  106
Tokar  -27
Kassala (other)  -61
Total Irrigated Pr.  887  8412/  626  623  1 516  1 465  -3
Total Harvested Area  366  364  318  288  688  654  -5
Mechanized Rainfed 
Kassala (others)  22  22  100
Kassala  54  153  54  153  183
Gedaref  1 144  592  1 150  595  -48
Damazin  201  227  204  228  12
Sennar  483  161  488  163  -67
White Nile  318  219  327  224  -32
South Kordofan  101  145  105  149  42
Upper Nile  86  152  86  155  81
South Darfur  -
Total Mechanized Prod.  2 388  1 672  27  16  2 414  1 688  -30
Total Harvested Area ('000 ha)  4 345  3 589  71  46  4 416  3 635  -18
Traditional Production 
Gezira  225  77  225  77  -66
Blue Nile  33  72  34  73  114
Sennar  45  53  11  -80
White Nile  26  63  14  27  77  185
Kassala  56
Nile  6
Red Sea  12  100
North Kordofan  14  24  33  75  47  99  109
South Kordofan  77  84  19  23  95  107  13
West Kordofan  95  73  60  82  155  155  -
North Darfur  24  48  26  54  109
South Darfur  84  148  180  178  13  277  327  18
West Darfur  113  176  85  119  199  297  49
Southern States  233  127  238  131  -45
Total Traditional Production  960  881  415  551  14  1 389  1 435  3
Total Harvested Area  1 917  1 733  1 575  2 279  11  3 502  4 014  15
National Production  4 235  3 394  444  568  640  626  5 319  4 588  -14
National Harvested Area ('000 hectares)  6 627  5 686  1 649  2 327  329  291  8 606  8 303  -4
Note: Total computed from unrounded data
1/ Excludes 89 000 tons of other cereals in 1996/97, mainly maize from the South and 52 000 tons in 1997/98, together with small amounts of rice.
2/ Includes 3 700 tons of irrigated sorghum produced in Upper Nile.
Table 2. Cereal area and production by sector, time series and Mission's forecast, 1997/98 1/
Area ('000 ha)  Yield (kg/ha)  Production ('000 tons) 
Average 88/89-92/93  1994/95  1995/96  1996/97  1997/98  Average 88/89-92/93  1994/95  1995/96  1996/97  1997/98  Average 88/89-92/93  1994/95  1995/96  1996/97  1997/98
Sorghum Irrigated  415  484  310  366  364  1 423  1 476  1 657  2 426  2 423  591  715  562  887  841
Mechanized  3 249  3 955  2 874  3 969  3 594  604  490  480  602  465  1 964  1 936  1 330  2 388  1 672
Traditional  1 005  1 856  1 552  1 917  1 733  397  478  349  501  501  399  888  542  960  881
Subtotal  4 669  6 295  4 736  6 252  5 691  633  562  514  677  596  2 954  3 539  2 434  4 235  3 394
Irrigated  681  429  595  476  500  1
Mechanized  53  32  24  71  46  442  328  328  430  380  23  10  11  27  16
Traditional  1 399  3 201  2 391  1 705  2 280  195  299  157  243  242  273  961  372  415  551
Sub-total  1 455  3 237  2 418  1 780  2 328  205  301  159  249  244  298  973  385  444  568
Maize  n/a  n/a  20  148  125  n/a  n/a  500  582  601  n/a  n/a  10  89  52
Wheat  311  278  314  331  292  1 669  1 608  1 752  1 934  1 144  519  447  550  640  626
All cereals  6 435  9 810  7 488  8 511  8 436  586  506  451  635  550  3 771  4 959  3 379  5 408  4 640
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data.
1/ Excludes small amounts of rice.

2.1 Major factors affecting production in 1997

2.1.1 Rainfall

Over much of the country the rainy season started well in April but, during the season, the precipitation varied greatly from place to place. In the South, well-established crops succumbed to drought from May onwards in Eastern Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal, Bahr El Jebel and Lakes. First season crops in these States either failed or have produced poor yields. But in Upper Nile and Malakal, the situation was much better, with well-distributed rains leading to good yields, particularly in Renk.

In the centre of the country, rainfall has been abnormally low, with places like Sennar, Kosti and Rashad showing large reductions from normal. The north and north-west part of Gedaref state has been dry and areas to be harvested are well down on last year. In the west, rainfall amounts were significantly better than last year but a dry September has affected both millet and sorghum.

For a number of important producing areas (e.g. Damazin, Rank), late rains in October partly offset the crop damage caused by the long dry spell in September which was so widespread across the country.

NDVI images generally showed an improved season in Kordofan and Darfur compared with 1996, but a more patchy situation in the centre and east. The South is significantly worse than last year, especially in Eastern Equatoria.

2.1.2 Irrigation

The Gash flood scheme has been unusually productive this year because of heavy rains in south Eritrea. Large areas were flooded, and planted with sorghum (including 34 000 hectares of Gash Die, which produced nothing last year). On the other hand, the spate at Toker has been poor, although late rains are benefiting some of the late millet crop. Some water shortages were experienced in New Halfa and areas planted to sorghum were down from 1996 and from average, although sorghum yields are good.

The Blue Nile was unusually low in the summer but has since risen to normal levels and will be sufficient for the winter crop in Gezira and Rahad. In both cases, however, wheat areas are down, partly due to the earlier low river level at Sennar.

Water distribution has been a problem in Gezira for this year’s sorghum crop where 10 000 hectares were lost. Silting of canals and excessive weed growth are serious problems, exacerbated by the financial squeeze on Gezira resulting from the withdrawal of direct government support and a backlog of debts incurred by tenants.

Financial pressures are, however, more severe in the recently privatized pump schemes on the Blue and White Niles. Areas planted to sorghum were less, although good yield levels appear to have been obtained despite reduced levels of fertilizer and some problems with fuel and spare parts. The wheat area in the White Nile region is expected to be less for the coming season.

In the north, the low level of the Nile during summer limited the area planted to flood and "demira" crops of sorghum. For the winter crops (including the important wheat crop) fuel supplies for pumping appear to be adequate for an enlarged area.

2.1.3 Field conditions

Annual weed infestations have been low in most areas this year, except in North Kordofan where early favourable rains caused rapid weed growth which farmers were unable to control. However, striga is the most significant weed in Sudan and this year its effects have been greater than usual. It was particularly severe in areas of the South around Juba and Wau (where farmers are forced to continually crop land near urban areas) and in the rainfed sorghum areas of the centre and east of the country. Mesquite is an ongoing weed problem in Tokar and Gash where significant areas are lost each year due to colonisation of the cropping areas.

2.1.4 Pests and diseases

This year has been one of the freest years for pests and diseases. There was little damage to crops at the seedling stage and even stem borer appears to have been less serious than usual. Crops of millet in the west have suffered damage from grasshoppers and millet headworm late in the season. Bird damage to sorghum prior to harvest has been more widely reported than normal. Sorghum midge has been a risk to some late crops but nearly all the sorghum is now past the vulnerable stage.

2.1.5 Input supplies

There has been even heavier use of fertilizers and improved varieties this year, particularly in the irrigation schemes but also in the higher rainfall mechanized areas such as Damazin. Heavy use of inputs and better crop management is becoming a more common feature of commercial agriculture and crop yields are responding.

Supplies of fuel and spare parts have been satisfactory except where financial constraints have limited purchases such as in the larger private pump schemes in Blue Nile and White Nile.

2.1.6 Yields

Average crop yields are lower than 1996 in most cases, although differences in production are largely due to changes in the areas harvested. Reductions in irrigated yields are mostly the result of constraints on water delivery rather than less use of fertilizers and improved seed. Rainfed, mechanized sorghum yields are significantly down on last year, especially in Gedaref, Sennar and White Nile, where long dry spells were experienced. Other mechanized areas, which benefited from late rains, have shown an increase in yield, notably Damazin, Renk and Dilling.

Millet yields are slightly down on last year; the increased production this year has come from a larger area harvested.

Wheat yields are expected to be favourable in view of the inputs used and the availability of irrigation water. However, the outturn for wheat will heavily depend on temperatures between now and March 1998.

2.2 Cereal production forecast

An aggregate cereal crop of 4.64 million tons is forecast for 1997/98, comprising 3.39, 0.57, 0.63 and 0.05 million tons of sorghum, millet, wheat and maize respectively. This should be seen as an average harvest overall but this masks the severe drop in production in the South which will have serious consequences for its population due to the difficulties of insecurity and access.

As in earlier years, there will again be a need to move cereals from the east or centre of the country to the west where considerable deficits will occur. The cost of transporting cereals is extremely high, especially when account is taken of the taxes levied on grain in transit. This will result in higher prices in the west and other deficit areas.

2.3 Other crops and livestock

Cotton is the most important cash crop in Sudan and the returns achieved during 1997 were poor - partly a production effect but also due to low prices for exported lint. In addition, cotton-growing farmers are under pressure to repay arrears to the irrigation schemes for costs incurred in cotton production, thus exacerbating the financial constraints faced by commercial farmers in the irrigated sector.

Livestock, on the whole, are in relatively good condition and grazings are fair. Exceptions are in those areas where the September drought was most severe, for example in Butana and Umm Rawaba. There appear to be no unusual animal health problems this year.

2.4 Crop situation by region

Sudan is sub-divided into 26 states, 23 of which were visited by the Mission. Table 3 groups these states into six main regions and presents crop production data for the last five years and compares them with a 5-year base average. Table 6 shows cereal production by region and includes a calculation of regional consumption and an estimate of the surplus or deficit (excluding any consideration of inter-regional trade, imports or the stock situation).

Table 3. Cereal area, yield and production by crop and region 1/
Area (‘000 hectares)  Yield (kg/ha)  Production (‘000 tons) 
Average 88/89- 92/93  1993
Average 88/89- 92/93  1993
88/89- 92/93 
Northern  17  21  107  95  81  35  1 471  1 667  953  979  1 802  2 429  25  35  102  93  146  85
Eastern  1 539  1 622  1 984  1 403  1 843  1 798  674  512  560  500  722  534  1 038  831  1 111  701  1 331  960
Central  2 117  2 019  2 634  2 162  2 582  2 182  699  595  610  593  756  648  1 479  1 201  1 606  1 282  1 952  1 413
Kordofan  511  538  982  559  773  828  423  262  372  206  371  394  216  141  365  115  287  326
Darfur  263  278  312  245  267  304  418  432  804  629  749  1 089  110  120  251  154  200  331
South  222  205  276  272  706  544  387  278  377  327  452  513  86  57  104  89  319  279
Subtotal  4 669  4 683  6 295  4 736  6 252  5 691  633  509  562  514  677  596  2 954  2 385  3 539  2 434  4 235  3 394
Eastern  11  13  15  14  19  30  545  462  400  357  421  300  9
Central  52  60  46  53  70  64  346  383  304  358  386  375  18  23  14  19  27  24
Kordofan  757  453  1 697  1 033  906  1 250  129  79  245  40  128  146  98  36  415  41  116  183
Darfur  633  529  1 472  1 310  763  965  276  289  365  244  377  359  175  153  537  319  288  346
South  22  19  500  400  143  125  227  316  6
Subtotal  1 455  1 060  3 237  2 418  1 780  2 328  205  208  301  159  249  244  298  220  973  385  444  568
Northern  39  55  65  76  97  116  2 513  2 000  2 400  2 553  2 835  2 991  98  110  156  194  275  347
Eastern  11  31  32  25  1 571  1 000  1 286  1 419  1 406  1 280  11  11  44  45  32
Central  263  288  203  199  191  148  1 551  1 181  1 379  1 533  1 602  1 649  408  340  280  305  306  244
Darfur  11  1 000  667  875  1 273  1 000  14  3
Subtotal  311  354  278  314  331  292  1 669  1 302  1 608  1 752  1 934  2 144  519  461  447  550  640  626
All cereals  6 435  6 097  9 810  7 468  8 363  8 311  586  503  506  451  636  552  3 771  3 066  4 959  3 369  5 319  4 588
Note: Totals computed from unrounded data
1/ Excludes 89 000 tons of other cereals in 1996/97, mainly maize from the South, and 52 000 tons in 1997/98.
Source: MAF estimates up to 1996/97, except for South. Mission estimates 1997/98 and South.

2.4.1 The South

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

Region  States  State Capital
Equatoria:  Bahr El-Jebel 
Eastern Equatoria 
Western Equatoria 
Upper Nile  Upper Nile 
Bahr El-Ghazal  West Bahr El-Ghazal 
North Bahr El-Ghazal 

Table 4 shows production breakdown by State for the three regions of Southern Sudan.

Eastern Equatoria

Poor rainfall in Eastern Equatoria has caused the most severe crop losses in years. Production of sorghum and maize is estimated at 18 000 tons, compared to 39 600 tons in 1996/97, a decrease of 54 percent.

The rains started in April and farmers planted crops of sorghum and maize and then the rains stopped in most areas in early May, with the result that the crops failed. For the sorghum crops which survived, the ratoon crop has been satisfactory in some areas such as Lafon. Sandy soil areas such as Kimotong suffered most from the drought. Residents of the Boma area to the north of the state were reported to be suffering from starvation, with a number of hunger-related deaths reported in November, 1997. However, the poor roads and the unseasonal rains now affecting Boma have prevented help and supplies of food from arriving.

Crops planted in the Kapoeta area were reported to have been a total failure. The Taposa agro-pastoralists in Kapoeta have begun selling cattle in Kenya in order to buy grain. A major air-drop of food for the Kapoeta area is planned for late November and early December.

In the Didinga Hills along the Uganda border, the rains also failed and large numbers of Didinga people have gone to find food in New Cush Camp. This is unprecedented, as the Didinga Hills are normally a very good farming area. In Chukudum, another area which normally produces a surplus, the drought killed off the main crops, leaving many people without food.

Further west in Nimule and south of Torit, rainfall was very erratic with some areas receiving enough rain for normal cropping but others receiving little or no rain and so suffering total crop failure. It is estimated that only 50 percent of the normal crop was obtained in Nimule, normally a self sufficient area.

In Torit, the provincial town of Imatong Province, the rains started as normal in March and continued until the second dekad of May, after which no further rain fell, with the exception of one day in July, until late September. Heavy rains fell in October, too late to be of use to crops. As a result, crop production is estimated at only half the amount of the previous year, itself regarded as a poor season. Insecurity for the estimated 10 000 residents of the town has reduced the areas planted by farmers. Bird damage to sorghum crops was also severe in 1997. Full food rations and seed supplies will be needed for Torit from January, 1998, to enable farmers to cultivate their land.

In Lafon, the first crop was also a failure, but ratoon sorghum crops were better than expected. In Lopit, total crop failure was reported and many people were on the move south, looking for food.

Table 4: Cereal Production in Southern Sudan, 1996/97 and 1997/98
Sorghum  Maize  Millet  Total 
96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98  96/97  97/98
Area  Area  Prod.  Prod.  Area  Area  Prod.  Prod.  Area  Area  Prod.  Prod.  Area  Area  Prod.  Prod.
(’000 ha)  (‘000 tons)  (’000 ha)  (‘000 tons)  (’000 ha)  (‘000 tons)  (’000 ha)  (‘000 tons) 
Upper Nile State 
Renk  160.5  117.1  65.8  105.0  1.9  3.6  3.8  3.4  2.2  166.2  120.5  70.4  107.2
Malakal  2.0  4.2  1.7  3.6  2.0  4.2  1.7  3.6
Melut  12.5  14.7  2.4  15.8  12.5  14.7  2.4  15.8
Gelhak  7.6  8.1  7.6  8.1
Fashoda/Wadakona  44.4  37.8  15.6  16.2  44.4  37.8  15.6  16.2
Irrigated  5.2  3.7  5.2  3.7
Total Mechanized  219.4  186.6  85.5  152.4  1.9  3.6  3.8  3.4  1.0  2.2  225.1  190.0  90.1  154.6
Western Equatoria  49.2  33.2  48.9  27.0  21.2  16.0  21.5  12.0  2.0  1.8  0.5  0.4  72.4  51.0  70.9  39.4
Bahr El Jebel  45.7  36.6  22.0  12.0  5.1  4.6  2.4  1.0  2.0  1.8  0.2  0.2  52.8  43.0  24.6  13.2
Eastern Equatoria  51.4  26.0  23.6  10.0  34.3  25.7  16.0  8.0  2.8  2.4  1.0  0.5  88.5  54.1  40.6  18.5
Jonglei  56.4  40.0  18.2  9.0  21.2  15.9  4.4  3.3  2.0  1.5  0.4  0.3  79.6  57.4  23.0  12.6
Upper Nile  56.1  42.0  25.5  15.0  10.1  9.0  6.9  5.0  2.5  2.0  1.8  1.5  68.7  53.0  34.2  21.5
Unity State  32.0  30.0  10.3  8.0  13.7  10.3  2.4  2.0  1.0  1.0  0.2  0.2  46.7  41.3  12.9  1
El-Buheirat  68.4  51.3  36.7  17.0  24.0  18.0  14.0  5.2  1.0  0.8  0.3  0.3  93.4  70.1  51.0  22.5
Warrab  29.8  25.0  16.1  8.0  12.8  12.0  6.6  4.0  2.0  2.0  0.2  0.2  45.1  39.0  22.9  12.2
West Bahr El Ghazal  48.7  36.5  19.6  12.0  4.5  3.8  1.1  1.0  1.0  1.0  0.2  0.2  54.2  41.3  20.9  13.2
North Bahr El Ghazal  49.2  37.0  12.4  9.0  5.1  3.8  1.1  1.0  1.0  1.0  0.2  0.2  55.3  41.8  13.7  10.2
Total Traditional  486.9  357.6  233.3  127.0  152.0  119.1  76.4  42.5  17.8  15.3  5.0  4.0  656.7  492.0  314.7  173.5
Grand Total  706.3  544.2  318.8  279.4  153.9  119.1  80.0  42.5  21.6  18.7  6.0  6.2  881.8  682.0  404.8  328.1
Area figures are for Harvested Areas.


The rains in the southern parts of Jonglei followed the same pattern as in Eastern Equatoria, causing the total loss of many first crops of sorghum and maize. Production is estimated to have dropped by 45 percent, compared to the previous year.

In Paluer area, of South Bor District, the first short term sorghum crop failed totally and only a fraction of the long term sorghum will produce a crop. Some of the ratoon sorghum has survived, but heavy rains at flowering reduced seed set. Also, the low plant populations in fields, allied to heavy infestations of stalk borer, combined to reduce yields. Some maize crops grown near the river around Yomciir, north of Bor, did survive the dry conditions and will produce reduced yields. Sorghum crops in this area were badly affected by the drought and by bird damage.

In Panyagor area of North Bor, fishing is now a very important source of food, together with wild foods such as water lily seed, desert date and wild rice. Good rains were received to assist planting of groundnuts in September.

Harvesting of maize and sorghum crops was progressing in Akobo area in November, with over half the households expected to harvest between 300-500 kg of grain, considerably less than in the previous year. Poor households may have to resort to greater usage of wild foods. This area, following some years of conflict, is now at peace. Trading opportunities with Nasir have also improved.

In Pibor, after a promising start in April, the rains failed completely, causing widespread crop losses. Although this area has many cattle, the loss of crops is a heavy blow in an area which also suffered heavy crop losses, through flooding, in 1996.

Insecurity in the Ayod and Yuai area along the Duk Ridge reduced or prevented crop production in this potentially productive area.

Western Equatoria

Western Equatoria is normally a very high producing area, having ample rainfall in normal years. Home produced crops form a higher proportion (80 percent) of the diet of the people in Western Equatoria than in any other state. In 1997, the early drought destroyed many short term sorghum crops in Maridi and second crops are were affected by heavy rains at flowering which is expected to reduce yields. However, farmers in Yambio and Maridi also grow cassava and sweet potato which have been less affected by the drought in May and June.

As a result of the unfavourable weather, maize and sorghum production declined from 70 400 tons to 39 000 tons, a decrease of 45 percent on the previous year.

In Mundri, the rains came on time and farmers planted as usual in April. There was then a dry period until August and this killed off almost all short season sorghum and groundnut crops. Cassava, which is an important secondary crop in parts of Mundri, was not replanted after being harvested by insurgent groups and this will significantly reduce food security in this area.

In Yambio and Tambura, where an estimated 14 000 returnees from the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have returned, an outbreak of trypanosomiasis is reported to be causing high morbidity, with some villages having 30 percent of the population affected. Treatment of this debilitating disease is long and difficult and its incidence reduced the ability of farmers to tend crops.

Bahr El Jebel

The 1997 crop year has been a disaster in Juba area, again due to the long dry period that followed good planting rains in April and which lasted in some areas until late September. Crops planted in April germinated well and then died from the effects of the extended drought. A few plots of long term sorghum survived but they have been so badly affected by Striga and by poor fertility of the worked-out soils that they are expected to produce less than 100kg/ha.

The 1997 maize and sorghum harvest is estimated at 13 000 tons, a decline of 47 percent on the previous year. The decline would have been greater but for the fact that Yei and Kajo Keji areas received better distributed rainfall than the Juba area.

Maize is grown as a second crop in islands in the Nile and along the river bank north of Juba. In 1997, the water level was at its lowest level for many years in August and farmers planted maize. The high rainfall in September and October raised water levels very suddenly and the crops planted on low lying land were inundated by this late flood and destroyed.

Insecurity was a major problem in the Juba area during planting. One large NGO could only achieve just under 10 percent of its intended aim of ploughing more than 1 000 hectares, due to the need to obtain security clearances each day before proceeding to the fields. One plough was destroyed and the tractor driver injured when the plough struck a land-mine. Delays in the delivery of fuel and spares also affected ploughing operations. In the event, all 120 hectares of crops grown were a total failure due to drought.

Groundnuts failed in most cases and those plants which survived only few had full kernels. Some farmers planted groundnuts later than usual, due to late seed deliveries, but they had a better than expected crop thanks to rains which began, just in time, in late September and carried on until harvest.

Other crops such as cowpea and green gram were very badly infested with pests including blister beetle, Bruchids, aphids and various fungal diseases and as a result will only produce a very meagre yield.

The residents of Juba have few options to ensure food security until the next harvest in July, 1998. The main cash-raising enterprises are selling firewood, charcoal, building poles and dried grass for thatching. This latter activity, which is normally carried out in the January to March period, is threatened by late rains which prolong the life of the grass, making it unsuitable as a roofing material. Restrictions on movements outside the city also prevent families from undertaking some of their normal coping strategies.

Farmers in Terekeka who have large numbers of cattle are reported to be selling stock at very low barter rates of one bull for one 90kg sack of sorghum. Crop production in Yei and Kajo Keji in the Green Belt Food Economy zone is much better, though early crops also suffered from drought. Insecurity caused by tribal raiding and sporadic encounters between SPLA and GOS forces also hampered food production.

Prices for sorghum in Juba market, at LS 45 000 per sack, are lower than one would expect, given the poor harvest. The recent arrival of a barge from the North carrying stocks of 1996 sorghum which merchants must clear, even at relatively low prices, before taking in the 1997 crop, is the reason for the relatively low prices compared to Wau. Sorghum was selling in late November for LS 45 000, compared to over LS 80 000 per sack before the arrival of the barge. Virtually no local sorghum or maize from the 1997 harvest was for sale in late November. It is expected that prices will soon climb when the stocks delivered by barge have been consumed.

A major cause of concern is the availability of food for the first six months of 1998 and for seed for planting. Few farmers will have any seed left following this harvest and food reserves are nil. There is an urgent need for an adequate supply of food to be available in March/April, 1998, to enable farmers to cultivate their land.

El Buheirat (Lakes State)

Lakes State is an important crop and livestock producing and trading area. The rains began in April in Tonj but stopped after two weeks. Crops germinated and then withered from drought. The dry period continued up to June, by which time all early sown crops had been lost. No seed was then available to replant when the rains began again in late June.

As a result of the poor first season rains and also poorly distributed rains later in the season, sorghum production is estimated at only 17 000 tons, compared to 36 700 tons in 1996. Maize production also dropped from 14 000 tons to just over 5 200 tons. The dry period in May and June also affected areas south of Tonj including Akot and Billing. This dry period extended right up to the end of the season in many areas , leaving crops destroyed but also reducing the availability of grazing for the many animals in the state. This is a very serious development as cattle provide up to half the food requirement of families in Lakes State.

In Rumbek, cassava and wild foods are important food sources. Insecurity has also been a major problem in Tonj, caused by the three separate forces active in this area. Many farmers were displaced and it is estimated that food production in many areas of Lakes State will only be 40 percent of normal. Large numbers of people displaced from Gogrial, Wau, Akop and Luanjang will add substantially to food demand and kinship support mechanisms in Lakes State and plans have already been made to provide emergency food assistance from January to April, 1998, prior to the next planting season.


Unity State includes the town of Bentiu, Mayom, Nhialdiu, Duar, Koch, Leer and Pariang. Maize and sorghum are the main crops, with the latter being subject to bird damage. Cowpeas and groundnuts are also important crops in a normal year. Production per household is sharply reduced in 1997 due to the dry period which occurred in May and June. In Pariang, insecurity has reduced the opportunities for people to collect wild foods, an important food source. Crops in Leer and Nialdhiu were badly hit by irregular rainfall and only 1-3 sacks are expected to be harvested in November/December, compared to the self sufficiency point of 3 -4 sacks per household. The 1996 harvest was also poor in this area, and this second bad harvest in a row has hit the poorer sections of the community especially hard.

Sorghum and maize production declined by an estimated 21 percent to 10 000 tons compared to the previous year.

Cattle are important in this area, with milk being a major source of food. No major cattle diseases were reported.


As a result of poor planting rains, a premature end to the rainy season in Gogrial and other areas and widespread insecurity and displacement of farmers, production of sorghum and maize in Warrap State declined from 22 700 tons in 1996 to 12 000 tons this year.

Gogrial, the main town in Warrab, is surrounded by opposition forces. As a result, residents have very little land to cultivate and the crops planted in 1997 failed totally due to drought. They now have only household gardens and livestock with which to survive the coming dry season. Insecurity also prevents them from indulging in other coping strategies such as gathering firewood, making charcoal or collecting thatching grass.

Further out from Gogrial, farmers could not plant their normal areas of land due to persistent insecurity caused by up to six independent militias and armed groups in the area.

The rain ceased in Gogrial in August, much earlier than usual and this adversely affected long season crops of sorghum.

Western Bahr El Ghazal

The town of Wau also suffered the effects of the drought in May and June and most sorghum crops will only produce a fraction of their potential. This crop season is estimated to be the worst for the past five years. Production of sorghum and maize declined by 38 percent compared to the previous year to an estimated 13 000 tons.

Fortunately, cassava and sweet potato are grown around Wau and in Raga and these crops were relatively unaffected by the drought. They provide the main food for the people of Wau from July to January, after which severe food shortages can be predicted. Raga province is not much affected by insecurity, has had a generally good rainfall in 1997 and this district will provide surplus production for sale in Wau during the dry season when the road becomes passable.

Insecurity in the eastern areas of the province has prevented normal farming activities and has resulted in much reduced cropped areas.

Pests and diseases were of secondary importance to drought this year, though Striga is a major problem in the hinterland of Wau, where sorghum has been grown continuously for many years.

Prices of cereals in the Wau market were very high in late November. Sorghum was selling for LS 72 000 per sack, while the salary of a labourer for one month is LS 15 000. These high prices reflect the fact that Wau is cut off from its hinterland, itself also very short of sorghum.

Northern Bahr El Ghazal

The continuing conflict in Northern Bahr el Ghazal has devastated this state, to such an extent that people there are comparing 1997 to 1988, the worst year of hardship and famine which led to the establishment of Operation Lifeline Sudan. Incessant looting and cattle raiding has prevented normal agriculture and caused large scale displacement of people, southwards towards Tonj in Lakes State, itself an area which has been devastated by the poor crop season. Cattle movements are highly restricted as is access to water points. Wild food resources are also inaccessible in many areas.

Northern Bahr El Ghazal had a poor season in 1996 but sorghum and maize production is estimated to have declined by a further 26 percent from an already low base of 13 500 tons to 10 000 tons.

The normal rainy season begins in late March/early April, reaching a peak in August and ends in October/November. This year, rains were higher than normal up to June with long dry spells in July and August, followed by high rainfall again in October. The drought in July prevented the normal planting of groundnuts in Aweil. Due also to the drought, an estimated 80 percent of the 700 ha of rice grown at the Aweil Rice Scheme was lost.

A serious millipede outbreak in Ariath was reported to have caused more serious crop damage than the dry weather. Green grasshoppers also have caused damage to crops in Northern Bahr El Ghazal. No pesticides are available to minimise the damage being done to crops by these pests. Monkeys also caused serious crop damage in the Aweil area.

Upper Nile

Upper Nile State includes the mechanized farming areas of Renk, Wadakona/Fashoda, Melut, Gelhak and Malakal as well as large traditional crop areas along the Nile and Sobat rivers. Rainfall in the main mechanized areas was only about 60 percent the 1996 level but it was almost perfectly distributed to provide ideal growing conditions for the sorghum crop. As a result, yields in Renk more than doubled from 377 kg/ha in 1996 to 896 kg/ha in 1997. Some farmers in Melut were reported to have obtained yields of over 3 tons/ha from rainfed sorghum. The areas planted to mechanized sorghum increased by 83 percent in Melut, Gelhak and Malakal, compared to the previous year, due to a concerted effort by Government to provide inputs in time.

Production of mechanized sorghum increased substantially from 85 500 tons to 152 400 tons, due mainly to better yields. The harvested area of sorghum in the mechanized areas of Renk dropped by some 22 percent from 239 400 hectares in 1996 to 186 600 ha this year. This was mainly due to poor prices following last year’s generally good harvest and to the perceived presence of large stocks of sorghum overhanging the market.

Input costs have risen sharply since 1996: for example diesel oil has increased by 63 percent, from 65 000 to 106 000 Sudanese pounds a drum. Prices meanwhile are 6 percent lower this year than in the previous year at about 17 000 Sudanese pounds per 90kg sack or approximately U.S.$ 107 per ton. However, the high yields obtained this year will help farmers to make some profit this year, assuming the present price holds firm.

The area under millet is similar to last year at 3 400 ha. Farmers are unlikely to increase millet plantings in view of the low prices offered for this crop.

Pests and diseases were not a serious problem in the mechanised areas, though the widespread presence of Striga causes a serious yield loss, which could be mitigated by using a better crop rotation. Striga is not such a serious problem in the traditional areas of southern and western Upper Nile.

Reduced availability of credit for harvesting may result in some crops being harvested later than recommended and this will tend to reduce potential yields in Renk. Harvesting had only just begun at the time of the Mission’s visit and some sorghum crops were beyond the recommended harvest time.

In the Traditional areas of Nagdiar, Maiwut, Chotbora, Nasir and along the Sobat River, crops were adversely affected by the failure of the rains in May and June and farmers who only planted one crop in April/May lost that crop. An estimated 25 percent of farmers will harvest some grain from ratooned sorghum crops. In the traditional areas, production of sorghum and maize is estimated at 20 000 tons, a decline of 38 percent compared to the previous year. Late crops grown in receding water along the rivers may be better than usual this year due to higher than average water levels which are the result of late rains.

Western Upper Nile has a high cattle population and no major cattle disease problems were reported. The area is relatively peaceful and access to grazing is unrestricted.

2.4.2 Eastern Region

This region includes the states of Red Sea and Kassala and Gedaref (Sudan’s largest surplus state, accounting for a quarter of national sorghum production). The spate irrigation schemes of Tokar and Gash, and the New Halfa scheme are included in the region, together with 55 percent of the Rahad irrigation scheme. The surplus grain from Eastern region is largely shipped to Khartoum and, when production allows, for export from Gedaref via Port Sudan.

In total, production is down by 28 percent from 1996/97, mainly due to a sharp reduction in sorghum from last year’s record crop. The sorghum area planted in the large mechanized schemes was reduced, partly because of low prices and high costs, and all rainfed crops were seriously affected by the dry period in September.

The season started well in most of the east, with typical rainfall amounts of 100 mm in June, 160 mm in July and 200-300 mm in August. August was also favourable in most of the mechanized schemes with 191 mm in Gedaref, 364 mm in SamSam and 210 mm in Umm Seinat. But the dry period began in August in Hawata (65 mm in August) and in Gadam Bilia (109 mm). Long dry periods in September are evident from the records: only 30-90 mm of rain in the north and west of Gedaref (followed by little significant rain in October), although more than 100 mm was recorded in September in the South and south-eastern areas (110 mm in SamSam, 129 mm in Umm Seinat) plus small amounts in October.

Total seasonal rainfall appears favourable (Gedaref 625 mm) but the dry September significantly reduced yields of both sorghum and sesame. In the large Gedaref scheme as a whole, production was down 48 percent from last year (a loss of 555 000 tons alone), despite excellent crops in SamSam. In Kassala, mechanized sorghum production increased to 175 000 tons from a very low base in 1996.

Pests and diseases were minimal but striga continues to be an important yield-reducing weed in the mechanized schemes and its effect was more marked this year. Sorghum midge is a risk for late rainfed crops but the Mission felt that most crops were now beyond the susceptible stage and incidences were light.

The harvest of rainfed crops is proceeding well, with no shortages of fuel or labour, and an adequate stock of tractors and combines. The sesame harvest was virtually finished at late November (with a disappointing outturn) and the sorghum harvest was well on. The results of a MAF harvest survey will provide more information on the Gedaref scheme later this year, and some revisions to the Mission’s forecasts may be necessary.

The other important feature of the Gedaref cereal situation is the high level of storage of last year’s bumper crop. Up to one third of last year’s sorghum from Eastern region is now stored in Gedaref and environs - 100 000 tons in the silos (ex ABS salam repayments held as a government strategic reserve), 250 000 tons in covered storage in the city (owned by large traders), 30 000 tons by other banks (repaid loans) and other quantities held by secondary and tertiary traders and retailers, plus some on-farm storage. Much of this quantity has been held in the expectation of a lifting of the export ban, and prices reflect world levels and the cost of shipping. The government has held firm on the ban, but some exports may be permitted once the harvest is secure and known. Space for safe storage will be at a premium from April 1998 and there will be a need to cash stocks to finance next year’s plantings.

The Eastern region also includes the irrigated schemes in Red Sea (Tokar), Kassala (Gash and New Halfa) and 55 percent of the Rahad scheme.

Tokar has been disappointing, with a poor flood this year, but Gash (by contrast) has been excellent with the best flood for several years, including Gash Die which has produced for the first time in recent years. Total sorghum production from Gash will double this year, to 51 000 tons. New Halfa is expected to produce 46 000 tons of sorghum this year; the small increase is due mainly to a 90 percent planting with improved varieties which will offset reduced fertilizer use. Wheat production will fall to 27 000 tons due to a reduced area planted this year. The New Halfa scheme is suffering (like some other irrigation schemes) from a liquidity crisis due to the sudden institution of financial autonomy. This has an effect on credit for inputs and cash for scheme maintenance works. On the other hand, some 12 000 tons of cereals in New Halfa have been held over from 1996.

Rahad will produce a record sorghum output, mainly due to 13 000 hectares being diverted from wheat production to sorghum this year. Yields are good overall in Rahad, although there is some doubt about the final production of sorghum from the late planted crops (still green at mid-November). Total Rahad sorghum production should be up by 35 percent on last year, but there will be a compensating fall in wheat output because of the reduced area planted. Wheat yields in Rahad will be high (because of the elimination of the marginal areas) but production will be half of last year’s, at only 10 000 tons.

2.4.3 Central Region

The Central Region usually produces about half of the national sorghum crop and includes the provinces of Blue Nile, White Nile, Gezira and Sennar and the Suki Irrigation Scheme, part of the Rahad Irrigation Scheme and large mechanized rainfed areas in Damazin, the Singa area and Kosti.

Total cereal production in the region is forecast to be 26 percent lower than last year due to reduced plantings and yields of sorghum, and a reduced area of wheat.

Total rainfall amounts at ,most stations were below normal: at Ed Duiem 150 mm (normal 220 mm), Wad Medani 292 mm (289), Sennar 212 mm (415), Kosti (267mm (315). At Khartoum, the rainfall was average at 136 mm.

Although the early part of the season was satisfactory, dry spells in late August and September had a major effect on both mechanized and traditional rainfed sorghum. The drought was particularly severe in the rainfed areas of Gezira, Sennar and White Nile and large areas of traditional sorghum in Butana, the east side of the White Nile and around Sennar were abandoned.

There were better crops in the south of the region, where the dry spell in September was shorter and some late rains in October allowed crop recovery. For example, rainfall in Abu Naama was 548 mm, Singha 585 mm and Damazin 576 mm - all fairly close to normal. The mechanized scheme at Damazin has produced good sorghum crops, with yields and production (227 000 tons) above last year’s levels. But overall, rainfed sorghum in Central region is down by 450 000 tons or 45 percent lower than last year+s heavy crop.

The irrigated sorghum crop in Central region, on the other hand, is similar to last year at nearly 700 000 tons. The Gezira planted area was reduced and a further loss of 10 000 hectares resulted from inadequate water delivery. Siltation of canals and weed growth are impairing the efficiency of Gezira and in effect, reducing the potentially irrigated area. However, greater use of improved seeds, better cultivation and almost 100 percent use of the standard 100 kg/hectare urea dressing has boosted yields, especially in Managil. Sorghum harvest is late in Gezira as a whole due to late planting caused by uncertainty over summer water supplies. The main issue for Gezira in future is the need to ensure adequate funding in the new situation of financial autonomy.

Rahad production of sorghum is 35 percent higher than last year due to the increased area, as sorghum has replaced wheat in the more marginal areas, especially in the south of the scheme.

In the Blue Nile and White Nile Schemes, sorghum production will be less than last year, mainly due to the financial effects of rapid privatization with no transitional arrangements. Cash sources have been limited and investment in fertilizers fuel and spare parts has been constrained by the new arrangements. Considering the difficulties (e.g. no fertilisers were used for sorghum in the White Nile schemes) the output of the private schemes on both rivers is expected to be only 16 percent less than last year. Suki irrigation scheme will produce an increased amount of sorghum this year but mainly because the groundnut part of the rotation has been eliminated and sorghum plantings have increased by 33 percent.

Wheat prospects in the irrigated schemes of Central region are for lower production than last year, due to reduced plantings. In Gezira, water availability for the normal wheat area was only cleared late in the season and the total area planted to wheat is down by 17 percent. Yields in Gezira should, however, be as good as last year in view of the satisfactory delivery of inputs and the progress with planting and first irrigation at early December. The planting campaign is running slightly later than last year but this should not affect yields.

In Rahad and the White Nile schemes, wheat plantings are significantly lower this year but the campaign is on schedule. Yields could be rather higher than before but wheat production will be down on last year,

For Central region as a while, wheat production is forecast at 244 000 tons, some 20 percent lower than 1996/97.

2.4.4 Kordofan Region

This large region, with a population of 3.6 million comprises the three individual states: North, West and South Kordofan.

Much of North Kordofan is marginal for crop production due to poor and erratic rains. The main cereal crop is millet, commonly grown on sandy (goz) soils and therefore susceptible to long dry spells. North Kordofan is frequently in deficit for cereals and relies on the sale of a number of cash crops and livestock to purchase adequate cereal supplies. In West Kordofan, both millet and sorghum are grown, the latter on the clay wadi soils which are more tolerant of drought. Cash crops are also important but the economy of West Kordofan is more diversified than North Kordofan, and other income sources are available to secure food supplies. CARE International has ongoing projects in North Kordofan and two food deficit provinces (En Nahud and Gubeish) of West Kordofan. The food and crop situation is monitored by CARE’s North Kordofan Food Information System (NKFIS). South Kordofan normally receives better rains and produces larger amounts of sorghum from both traditional and mechanised agriculture (at Dilling).

There are virtually no irrigated crops in Kordofan region.

North Kordofan has had a better season than the last two years, and production of millet has significantly increased, although the state will still be in heavy deficit. The rains were particularly favourable in the early part of the season (especially in July and August) but the dry September caused some millet crops to fail and most others to produce low yields. Only 56 percent of the planted area was harvested, and millet yields only averaged 120 kg per harvested hectare (though higher than 1996). Total rainfall at El Obeid was 352 mm (356 mm in 1996), at Semait 433 mm (406), at Bara 157 mm (180) and at Umm Saila 279 mm (260). Although the totals were similar to 1996, the distribution of rainfall was better, except for the dry September. The provinces of Umm Rawaba and Sheikan were the best parts of the state, whereas the two northern provinces of Bara and Sodari were poor, with widespread crop failures. Grasshopper damage and millet headworm have further reduced yields of some drought-affected crops. At its mid-season assessment (October) CARE identified six rural councils as vulnerable to food deficits (compared with 13 last year), although a post-harvest analysis may result in a more pessimistic report. The Mission recognises that cereal production is very low in the northern parts and that pre-harvest stocks were negligible. The ability of farmers to realise cash for food purchases is impaired this year due to low prices for the main cash crops (sesame, groundnut, melon seed and kurkadeh) and for gum Arabic and livestock. The domestic recession and reduced export earnings have caused depressed demand for these cash sources.

For the whole of North Kordofan, the estimated harvested area of cereals was 50 percent higher than last year, and the production double at 100 000 tons but meeting less than half the food needs of the state.

West Kordofan has also had a better year with a good start to the season followed in late August and through September by dry periods which reduced productive areas and yields. Total rainfall was well up on last year, by 40-50 percent in the north and centre (eg. En Nahud 487 mm compared with 343 mm in 1996 and Foula 651 mm compared with 440 mm), and an even greater rise in the south (eg. Lagowa 604 mm compared with 345 mm).

Crop damage from grasshoppers was serious in Elkwai and Lagowa partly because of limited cash from farmers for control measures (grasshoppers are not considered a national pest and are no longer controlled freely by MAF). Striga was also widespread and millet headworm was serious on drought-affected crops. The millet crops north of En Nahud were very poor but in the important province of Gubeish the crops are well up on last year. CARE is forecasting small surpluses in the two provinces covered by NKFIS but, for the whole state, a deficit seems likely with production forecast by the Mission at 155 000 tons.

South Kordofan has had a broadly similar weather pattern although the September drought was less severe, and areas harvested and yields were better, overall, than in the two northern states of the region. In Kadugli, total rainfall was 511 mm (657 mm long-term mean), Dilling 536 mm (557 in 1996) and Habila 419 mm (649 mm in 1996). The traditional crop is unusually late due to successive and late plantings, and is forecast to produce only 84 000 tons of sorghum and 23 000 tons of millet - only slightly up on last year. However, the mechanised sorghum on the clay lands, is more promising, although it is also extremely late. Replantings were necessary and fuel shortages delayed cultivation, but more improved seed was used than before. Some quelea damage in the west of the state could not be controlled because of the insecurity situation. Mechanised production is forecast to be 45 percent up on last year at 145 000 tons and is close to the 5 year baseline average (1988/89-1992/93). For the whole of South Kordofan, a small surplus is forecast.

2.4.5 Darfur Region

The region comprises North, South and West Darfur where the main crop is millet but with substantial sorghum in South Darfur. Total population in 1998 will be 5.4 million of which nearly half are in South Darfur.

The productive parts of North Darfur lie on the same latitude as North Kordofan and tend to suffer from similarly erratic and poor rains, with frequent food deficits and a strong dependence on livestock and partly on cash crops. SCF (UK) regularly monitors the food situation from El Fasher. West Darfur usually receives better rainfall in its western areas and achieves much higher millet yields but the state is still commonly in substantial deficit. South Darfur is the most productive of the three states due to its more dependable rainfall and larger cropped area. There is virtually no irrigation in the region except for small amounts along rivers in South Darfur.

North Darfur has had a better year than the last two very dry seasons. But rainfall amounts were still poor (El Fasher 155 mm, 149 mm in 1996) and crops are still well short of requirements. The early rains were good but were followed by long dry spells in August and September - particularly in some rural council areas in the provinces of Umm Keddada, Kutum and Mellit where many crops have failed. Food shortages are already severe in these three locations since there was no stock carryover from last year’s poor harvest. Food prices are extremely high, livestock prices are falling and more people than usual are leaving the area in search of work. SCF (UK) reports a high malnutrition incidence. External assistance will be needed for food supplies and for seed for next year. For North Darfur, as a whole, millet production is double last year’s but will only meet 25 percent of food requirements.

The situation is much better in West Darfur where the September drought was shorter and total rainfall amounts were good. (Genneina precipitation was 447 mm - 286 in 1996, Zalinge 425 mm, 456 in 1996). Pest problems were much less serious than last year. Unusually late rains in November caused some problems locally but did not affect the harvest significantly. Production will be well up on 1996 with particularly productive crops in Wadi Saleh and Genneina provinces. West Darfur as a whole will be in surplus but exports to other areas will be partially controlled by the state government to avoid sharp price increases and to protect local supplies. Sorghum prices in the most surplus areas are extremely low in this post harvest period.

South Darfur has generally had average rains, slightly better than last year’s reasonable season. The dry September reduced the harvestable area of both sorghum and millet, especially in Nyala province and in the north of De’ein where crops are poor. Total rainfall in Nyala was normal at 390 mm. Total planted areas of both cereals were well up on last year but half the millet area was lost due to the September drought. Millet yields on the remaining areas were generally good, averaging 390 kg/ha, and sorghum was especially productive at about 1 ton/ha. The area of rainfed wheat in South Darfur fell back sharply with less than 1000 ha in 1997. Total cereal production for the state is forecast at 330 000 tons but this will still leave a substantial food deficit for this populous state.

2.4.6 The Northern Region

This region includes the two states of North and Nile with a combined population of 1.4 million. This near-rainless region is almost wholly dependent on irrigated crops along the rivers Nile and Atbara, although some rainfed sorghum is grown traditionally in Nile state when rainfall allows. The main cereal crops are sorghum and a little maize during summer, and the much larger wheat crop in winter (December to April). Beans are also a very important winter crop, together with a variety of vegetables and spices. Production of food crops is mainly affected by the level of the Nile, fuel supplies for pumping, crop inputs and price prospects.

The Nile level during summer 1997 was low and this reduced the regional output of sorghum and maize significantly. In North State, 26 000 ha were planted to summer sorghum and maize but about half of this area was cut for livestock fodder because of low sorghum prices and reduced river flows. The output of maize and sorghum in North State was only 20 000 tons, but farmers are planting record areas of winter wheat, stimulated by good prices of around LS 45 000/100 kg sack. A major irrigation rehabilitation programme is underway which will improve winter cropping. Fuel supplies are excellent and there are adequate fertilisers on hand for the wheat crop. Input prices are high but this does not appear to have affected the level of use. MAF’s target is for 84 000 ha of wheat but the Mission is assuming 76 000 ha will be planted and irrigated by the end of the calendar year, and 97 percent of this will be harvested. Progress during the Mission’s visit was slightly behind last year but the priority bean crop was all planted and farmers were heavily focused on wheat cultivation. The level of the Nile has risen significantly and is satisfactory for the expanded area of winter crops. Wheat production in North State is tentatively forecast at 228 000 tons, with average yields of 3 tons/ha, the same as last year. This would be greater than wheat from Gezira and represent 36 percent of national production.

In Nile State, summer sorghum plantings on the flood were very low and no production was achieved (the floods were poor and Atbara only received 25 mm of rain). But the summer irrigated sorghum crop yielded well although on a smaller area because of low prices. The "demira" sorghum crop (planted September) is extremely good with some excellent yields but again on a smaller area. Total sorghum production will be around 65 000 tons for the state - well down on 1996.

The wheat crop in Nile State will increase in area to 50 000 ha this year due to a good supply of fuel and inputs, and new lands being brought into winter cultivation. Progress had been good with half the area planted by December 1 1997. The irrigation schemes have been handed over to the farmers, and finance has been difficult, but some credit from ABS, the Farmers Bank and from central government has been forthcoming particularly for diesel and fertilisers. With an average season for winter temperatures, yields could improve on last year because of greater use of the improved "Wadi Nil" and "Condor" varieties. The tentative forecast is for a wheat output of 120 000 tons, nearly 20 percent of national production.

The Northern region as a whole is forecast to produce around 440 000 tons of cereals in 1997/98 - well above regional consumption requirements. However, the wheat estimates will need reviewing later as the crop approaches harvest in April 1998.


3.1 Supply/demand balance for 1996/97 and 1997/98

Table 5 indicates the Mission’s assessment of the national cereal balance for the year up to 31 October 1997, and the forecast balance for 1997/98. In both years, total cereal supply is high compared with recent years, in 1996/97 due to the record sorghum harvest and for 1997/98 because of the heavy carryover stocks resulting largely from the ban on exports in 1997. Consumption levels have been relatively high in both years, reflecting the plentiful supplies of sorghum.

Table 5: Sudan - Foodgrain balance sheet (‘000 tons)
1996/97 (Population 27.94 million)  1997/98 (Population 28.746 million) 
Cereal  Sorghum  Millet  Wheat  Other  Cereal  Sorghum  Millet  Wheat  Other
Availability  6 185  4 350  524  1 197  114  6 058  4 165  636  1 170  87
Opening stocks  266  100  80  85  966  748  68  144  6
Production  5 408  4 235  444  640  89  4 640  3 394  568  626  52
Utilization  6 185  4 350  524  1 197  114  6 058  4 165  636  1 170  87
Food  4 219  2 752  391  978  98  4 341  2 831  489  949  72
Feed  300  300  250  250  -
Other  600  450  65  75  10  500  350  65  75  10
Exports  100  100  400  400  -
Closing stocks  966  748  68  144  567  334  82  146  5
Imports  511  15  472  24  452  23  400  29
- Commercial  496  472  24  429  400  29
- Food Aid  15  15  23  23  -

3.1.2 Current market situation

In contrast to 1996/97 when cereal prices doubled during the season, this year has seen a remarkably stable price situation in most parts of the country. Exceptions are, of course, in the South where prices are affected by the scarcity of supplies, insecurity and extremely low purchasing power. In some limited areas of the west, prices for millet are also very high due to some local shortages. But, for most of the country, old crop sorghum is selling for LS 17 000-20 000 per sack, depending on quality, and new crop millet for LS 28 000-33 000 per sack.

The market generally is extremely slack with limited effective demand (due to low cash incomes), high carryover stocks and little indication from government on cereal policy for exports or further official purchases. Whilst commercial farmers are strongly arguing for sorghum exports to bring some cash and firmness into the market and to allow destocking, the government is holding on to the export ban possibly until the total grain harvest is known with more certainty. If the ban is not lifted, price rises are unlikely in the next three months, but if exports were allowed then some modest strengthening of prices is possible after March. Much depends on the level of exports permitted.

Farmers’ unions have already been warning that without some strengthening of the market, plantings could be reduced for next year’s crop.

3.1.3 Opening Stocks

Pre-harvest stock levels in 1996 were at one of the lowest levels on record, as a result of the poor harvest in 1995 and the need to draw down stock levels to maintain consumption. But, following the record harvest last year (particularly for sorghum) and the absence of significant exports, stock levels as of October 1997 have been estimated at nearly 1 million tons. The closure to exports has resulted from not only the export ban but also the tight border controls on Sudan’s eastern frontiers. However, the Mission still estimates that some sorghum has been unofficially exported, mainly to Eritrea (which suffered deficits during the year) and a working figure of 100 000 tons of exports has been used - well below any recent year except 1995/96.

The level of carryover stocks derived from the balance sheet (at 966 000 tons) has also been reviewed by the Mission during its field work. Although high (nearly 20 percent of consumption) these stock levels are not exceptional. They exceeded 1 million tons in October 1994 and the average pre-harvest level over the past five years has been 640 000 tons. In late November 1997, most grain being traded was old crop sorghum (except for some traditionally-grown grain which was starting to appear) and traders expect this to continue for several months as stocks slowly clear. Although most storage space is taken in the main trading towns such as Gedaref and Sennar, new crop cereals may be temporarily stored outside (until April) and in underground matmurahs. In the absence of exports or further purchases by government, the carryover from 1996/97 will take several months to clear. In the meantime, prices are likely to remain depressed, exacerbated by a weak domestic demand from the generally low level of cash incomes resulting from tight monetary policies.

3.1.4 1997/98 Production

The year has produced a reasonable sorghum crop (in the context of the last ten years) and an improved output of millet compared with the last two years. Wheat production should be in line with recent trends despite some reduction in areas; however, the wheat estimates will need reviewing in March 1998. Overall, the cereal crop is forecast at 4.64 million tons which, together with the high carryover stocks, gives a domestic availability slightly better than a year ago.

3.1.5 Food Consumption

Government has revised population estimates slightly upwards, based on 2.88 percent growth from the 1993 census for all areas except the South. This puts the mid-1998 population for the whole country at 28.75 million (including a central government estimate for the South of 4.18 million). This figure is used in the balance sheet in Table 5. In view of the generally favourable cereal availability situation both last year and this year, per caput consumption has been raised to 151 kg of all cereals. This equates to 161 kg/caput in the northern states and 90 kg in the South. Sorghum accounts for 65 percent of 1997/98 consumption (being the only grain in surplus) but millet consumption is expected to rise during the year (from 14 to 17 kg per caput) as a result of the improvement in the supply position in the western states. Wheat consumption (at 33 kg/caput) is expected to be down slightly in 1997/98 due to reduced cash incomes in the urban areas.

These consumption patterns overlook regional and more local differences where access to food supplies is hampered by crop failure, insecurity and very low purchasing power.

The food security situation in the deficit west will be affected by the cash income likely to be generated from rainfed crops for sale such as groundnuts, sesame, kurkadeh and melon seed. Production of these crops in 1997 has been variable, depending on the rains and the pest situation (water melon is much healthier this year). However, prices are lower than last year, partly due to the depressed domestic demand and, in some cases, due to a weak export market. Gum Arabic, another cash source for some food deficit areas, is also relatively cheap despite some restructuring of the processing and marketing arrangements. Finally, livestock prices have also fallen, because of the domestic recession and a poor export demand. These various cash sources (of particular importance in North Darfur and North Kordofan) will clearly be weaker this year as a result of market forces, with a direct effect on the ability of food-deficit people to access food from other regions.

3.1.6 Non-food use

During 1996/97, the use of sorghum for animal feed has risen in line with increased availability and relatively low prices for sorghum. The allowance for waste has also been increased above recent levels, reflecting the abundant sorghum supplies following the 1996 harvest. However, for 1997/98 the reduced sorghum crop and some possible strengthening of prices later in the season, is expected to result in less waste and less use for animal feed. Both will return to more normal levels: 250 000 tons of sorghum for feed and 500 000 tons for seed and waste.

3.1.7 Exports

There were no official exports in 1996/97 and the ban is still operating in late 1997, despite considerable pressure on government from commercial farmers and traders. It is impossible to judge whether the government will permit exports in 1998 but, from the balance shown in Table 5, there is a distinct possibility of export levels reaching 400 000 tons without penalising national stocks. Without exports, carryover levels will again run at the million ton mark by the end of the marketing year.

Decisions on exports are likely to be delayed until the size of cereal harvest is known with more certainty, including perhaps early indications for wheat (at March 1998). Irrespective of official exports, some limited cross-border trade is likely in 1998, particularly from the East region into Eritrea.

3.1.8 Imports

The demand for wheat in Sudan remains strong and consumption is expected to be 949 000 tons in 1997/98 - well above the anticipated domestic production of 626 000 tons. Allowing for seed retentions (at high levels for wheat) 400 000 tons of wheat will need to be imported to meet consumption requirements, with no change in stocks.

The other (relatively minor) imports are sorghum food aid for the southern sector of the OLS and some rice imports. Most food aid requirements are expected to be met by locally purchased sorghum from the surplus areas.

3.1.9 Closing stocks

Because both wheat and millet are in deficit in 1997/98, the Mission assumes that stocks will remain unchanged for these two cereals. However, on the assumption of some sorghum exports, stocks of sorghum will be drawn down during the year from 748 000 tons to 334 000 tons (the closing stock level will be directly related to the level of exports). It is expected that the Government’s strategic reserve of 150 000 tons will be maintained during the year, or possibly increased by further transfers from bank loans repaid by farmers under the salam system.

Overall, the Mission has tentatively forecast closing cereal stocks at 567 000 tons, a 42 percent drawdown to a level more in line with recent years.


3.2 Deficit and surplus areas

Table 6 indicates the difference between net cereal production and consumption (at the rates indicated in 3.1.5 and using the latest government population data). This ignores changes in stocks and inter-regional trade, but it does give an indication of where the surpluses and deficits are located. For the whole of Sudan, the deficit in the production of all cereals is 451 000 tons; in 1996/97 there was a surplus of 550 000 tons. But, with heavy imports of wheat and large carryover stocks, this year’s deficit is not critical for the country as a whole.

Regional surpluses occur in the North (mainly due to the low population and the large wheat production) and in the East (although much less than last year due to reduced sorghum from the mechanized schemes). The Central region is in heavy deficit because of the substantial reduction in sorghum from last year. Darfur has a large deficit, comparable to last year, and substantial grain movement will be necessary from existing stocks in the centre and east of the country. The deficit in Kordofan is less than last year but is still large and will necessitate heavy shipments of sorghum through El Obeid. The 100 000 ton deficit in the South (or 27 percent of consumption needs) is more serious that it appears, partly because of the insecurity, difficult access, and the very low purchasing power of the people, but also because the regional production includes 150 000 tons from Renk (in Upper Nile), most of which will be moved north to the central markets. Furthermore, local situations in the South are much worse than the overall regional food balance indicates (see regional commentary on the South).

Table 6: Regional cereal production and consumption, 1997/98 (‘000 tons)
Sorghum  Millet  Maize  Wheat  All cereals  Net prod.*  Population  Consumpt. requirements  Balance  Percent of surplus/ deficit on consumption
Northern  85  10  347  442  371  1 427  230  +141  61 
Eastern  960  32  1 001  839  3 474  561  +278  50 
Central  1 413  24  244  1 681  1 409  10 630  1 716  -307  18 
Kordofan  326  183  509  427  3 603  581  -154  26 
Darfur  331  346  680  570  5 428  876  -306  35 
South  279  42  327  274  4 184  377  -103  27 
Total  3 394  568  52  626  4 640  3 890  28 746  4 341  -451  10 
* After seed, feed and waste

3.3 Food aid requirements

Erratic rainfall and long dry spells in North Kordofan, North Darfur, and in the South, particularly in the Bahr El Gazal and Equatoria States have resulted in a major failure of crops in parts. Continued conflict in Southern Sudan has displaced thousands of people from their homes and a large number have been unable to cultivate due to insecurity and difficult access to farm lands.

In several towns and villages in these states, the prices of commodities have risen to extremely high levels, even during the harvest time, e.g. LS 52 000/90 kg sack of sorghum in Wau and Juba, and 42 000 in Kutum compared to a minimum wage level of LS 20 000 per month. Food purchases are beyond the reach of a large proportion of the population. From a normal trading exchange of one sack of millet for two goats, the exchange at late November stood at one sack of millet for seven goats in some food deficit areas. In the Northern Darfur Provinces of Kutum, Um Keddada and Mellit, 1997 is the third consecutive year of crop failure. Many of the households have already exhausted their stock of livestock and limited coping options are available to them. In these locations, some reported that the situation is comparable to the worst drought of 1983/84.

Malnutrition of children under five years old was reported to have reached 55 percent in Gogrial, 42 percent in Aweil and a general increase from 18 percent in 1995 to 28 percent in 1997 among the displaced children in many locations in the Southern Region. Similarly, as a reflection of the deteriorating health situation linked to the inadequate consumption of food, the number of tuberculosis patients in Wau is reported to have increased from 100 in 1995 to 232 in 1996 to 803 in the first nine months of 1997.

There is a clear sign of an emergency situation in the South and in some provinces of Northern Darfur, for several hundred thousand people during 1998.

3.3.1 Review of Emergency Programme in 1997

The FAO/WFP mission in 1996 estimated that some 81,300 tons of food commodities would be required for emergency food assistance to 2.6 million people in 1997 in the Southern states, including those in the transitional zones and in the displaced camps in Khartoum and White Nile states (34 600 tons for the OLS Northern sector and 46 700 tons for the Southern sector). The same mission also suggested that food deficits in Darfur, Kordofan and Red Sea states be covered through market interventions. In addition, SCF-UK had estimated that some 46 000 tons of cereals would be required to prevent widespread distress and hunger in North Darfur .

Against these planned quantities, for both Northern and Southern operations, WFP was able to deliver only a total of 26 300 tons (as of end October 1997) meeting 32 percent of the overall estimated requirement. Long delays in granting clearance and permission for barges and flights, as well as insufficient and late receipt of funding, resulted in low deliveries of emergency supplies in 1997.

Additionally, WFP through ongoing school feeding programmes, food for work and the protracted refugee operation, also provided a total of 45 000 tons during 1997. The food for work and the school feeding projects assisted by WFP have played a major role in providing additional sources of food for 375 000 people in this critical period of food scarcity.

SCF-UK and CARE, through funding from various sources (UK: 12 000 tons, EU: 14 960 tons and WFP: 1 000 tons), also distributed a total of 27 960 tons in other areas mainly in the states of North Darfur, North Kordofan and Red Sea.

The limited distribution of emergency food assistance among the target groups has had a serious effect on the nutritional and health situation among the displaced and vulnerable groups during 1997. The stock of livestock among the poorest has been depleted, increasing vulnerability to shortages in food supplies for the majority of the displaced and the food insecure . Limited supplies of food commodities to the market has led to continuous rises in prices, making food beyond reach for minimum wage earners, and pushing many more people to extreme hardship and increasing dependency on emergency food assistance.

3.3.2 Logistics

There are adequate port and logistics facilities for receiving, transport and storage of commodities within the country. However, problems of access due to insecurity and long lead times in obtaining permits is the major constraint for the deliveries to remote locations in the country, particularly in southern Sudan and the transitional Zones.

For the Northern Sector OLS programme, a total of 14 539 tons of commodities were delivered by WFP in 1997 up to end November. Most of this was delivered by trucks (58 percent), followed by barges (35 percent), and some 7 percent by aircraft. The costs of the operation varied considerably depending on the mode of transport. Road transport costs have been maintained at a very competitive level of U.S. cents 3.9 to 4.8 per ton per km (as compared to 7 to 9 cents in other African countries); barging costs have ranged from U.S.$ 34/ton to U.S.$ 88/ton depending on the season, whereas air transport costs have ranged from U.S.$ 360 to U.S.$ 419 per ton depending on location. In spite of higher costs, due to inaccessibility by roads and barges, some quantities had to be delivered by air although this was exceptional for the Northern Sector OLS Operation.

The emergency programme includes three items in the food basket: sorghum, pulses and vegetable oil. However, due to various constraints most of the time, cereal and only one additional item is being distributed. In order to simplify the logistics and ensure timely delivery of commodities, it may be worthwhile to limit the food items to sorghum and pulses, as the vegetable oil is less important for Southern Sector rural population.

3.3.3 Emergency food needs for 1998

In the South, a poor harvest and inaccessibility to farm lands due to war, means that some 60 to 70 percent of the population in Eastern Equatoria, Bahr El Gazel, Lakes, parts of Jonglei state and the transitional zones (or some 1 645 000 persons) will need emergency food assistance for about three to six months in 1998 . Similarly, most of the 1.4 million internally displaced people living in the displaced camps in rural areas have also lost their harvest and will require emergency food assistance for a period ranging from three to nine months during 1998. Vulnerable groups, mainly children, lactating and pregnant women and elderly, projected at around 10 percent of the food deficit population in food deficit and war areas of the South and transitional zones will need supplementary food assistance in the form of wet feeding or supplementary rations for different lengths of time during 1998. In addition to relief assistance for an overall 2.2 million persons in the South, the Mission also estimated that about 180 000 people in Northern Darfur will require emergency food assistance for their survival between the period July to September 1998. Depending on further assessment of the food situation some 14 000 people affected by flood and civil conflict around the southern Tokar area of Red Sea state may also require emergency food assistance for a period of three to six months. The Mission estimates that for this purpose a total of 6 530 tons of various commodities will be required.

For the various interventions covering the South and affected parts in Northern States, the Mission estimates that a total of 73 500 tons of food, including 56 605 tons of cereals, will be required as emergency food aid during 1998. While most of these requirements are planned to be purchased locally, some 30 000 tons of food for the South (including some 23 000 tons of cereals) have to be imported and distributed from Nairobi, because of logistics constraints.

The annual OLS needs assessment conducted in the Southern sectors in September of 1997 confirmed a significant crop failure in Equatoria, Bahr El Ghazal and Jonglei states and estimated relief food needs at 30 000 tons of various commodities during 1998. Therefore the total food requirement for the WFP Northern and Southern Sectors is estimated to be about 73 500 tons.

A summary of the breakdown of the number of beneficiaries and the quantities (in tons) of commodities required in 1998 for various emergency interventions excluding the ongoing development programme assisted by WFP, are as follows:

Table 7: Relief food aid needs for 1998
Locations  No. of Beneficiaries  Cereals  pulses  veg.oil  DSM  UNIMIX  Sugar  Total
OLS Northern sector ex WFP Khartoum  1 205 448  23 730  3 560  890  28 180
OLS Northern sector ex- WFP Nairobi  80 140  1 750  262  66  2 078
Vulnerable groups ex WFP Khartoum  500  640  900  1 680  520  3 740
Northern Sudan ex-WFP Khartoum/Non OLS  180 000  8 030  1 200  300  9 530
Sub total Northern Sector  1 466 088  33 510  5 022  1 896  900  1 680  520  43 528
Sub total Southern Sector ex WFP Nairobi  915 500  23 095  30 000
Total  2 381 588  73 528*
* The total food requirement is not based on a full 12 month ration but rather on supplementary requirements based on specific food deficits varying in quantity and duration.

3.3.4 New Initiative under emergency

To stabilize prices and reduce the demand for emergency relief food, a pilot commodity price stabilization initiative is proposed for implementation in 1998. Under this scheme some 12 000 tons of sorghum would be allocated under the emergency programme for sale in the market at reasonable prices in locations such as Wau and Juba . This initiative is expected to improve access to basic food items for the poor with some purchasing power, rather than pushing them to depend on emergency assistance. A detailed analysis of the tonnage required and the mechanism for the sale and the utilization of the proceeds will have to be worked out based on previous experiences of similar exercises successfully undertaken in Juba during 1989/90.

3.3.5 Complementary support: WFP development programme

In addition, the ongoing WFP assisted food for work programme and the school feeding projects is expected to supply 27 600 tons of commodities during 1998, and a significant part of this will be targeted in the food deficit areas of these states.

It is essential that the bulk of the emergency programme to the Southern States be provided before the planting season begins in April 1998. This will enable farmers to cultivate and plant their crops in good time and thereby reduce dependency on food aid later in the year. As there are adequate local surpluses, the cereal requirement could be meet through local purchases. Considering the complexity of the humanitarian programme in Sudan, continued funding for food monitoring and logistics support will be essential.

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. 
Abdur Rashid  
Chief, GIEWS FAO  
Telex 610181 FAO I 
Fax: 0039-6-5705-4495 
E-mail:[email protected] 
M. Latham  
Section Chief, OSA, WFP 
Telex: 626675 WFP 1  
Fax: 0039-6-6513-2861 
E-Mail: Mark.Latham @WFP.ORG

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