21 August 2017

Sudan: People in Sudan's Capital Are Queueing Again for Bread

Khartoum — Large areas of Khartoum state have been suffering from a shortage of bread for more than a week.

"In particular in Eastern Nile locality and the southern Khartoum districts of Jabra and Soba, people have to wait in long times to obtain some loaves of bread from the bakeries," a listener reported from Khartoum.

He called on the state authorities "to consider bread as a minimum requirement".

Bakery owners attribute the crisis to the reduction of the flour quotas. One of them told this station that the Sudanese Sayga Mills private company has reduced the quota from four sacks of flour to one sack a day.

He criticised the Bakers' Union for remaining silent, and stressed the need to develop a plan "that guarantees the steady provision of flour to the bakeries".

Imported

Sudan imports more than two million tons of wheat annually at a cost of $1.5 billion. Before, analysts attributed flour crises in 2015 and 2016 to the lack of hard currency at the Sudanese banks, which forced the importers, reportedly including the government, to buy US dollars at the black market.

In October last year, the Sudanese Minister of Finance announced the withdrawal of the government from the international wheat market, and the cancellation of any restrictions to the free import of the staple food.

In addition, the authorities would end their control over the domestic wheat and flour market. The minimum weight for a piece of bread would be abolished as well.

Since January, people in various parts of Sudan complain about flour shortages. A listener commented from Khartoum at the time that "Since the government liberalised the US Dollar rate for import goods in November, the import of wheat has become less lucrative. The prices of flour immediately began to soar again."

In July, people in eastern Sudan's Kassala complained about an acute shortage of flour. Since Monday last week, people in El Gedaref are queueing for hours at bakeries hoping to get some bread.

The US Dollar rate reached 21.5 Sudanese Pound on the black market in Khartoum on 1 August.

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