Sudan: Prices of Sorghum, Millet Declining

Khartoum — Prices of locally grown staple foods in Sudan began to decline seasonally with the start of the 2019 harvest in October. Prices of imported wheat increased, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan (OCHA) reported in its Situation Report on Thursday.

However, prices of cereals are still at record or near record levels despite the above-average 2018 harvest and overall favourable prospects for the current 2019-2020 crop harvest, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said in its latest Food Price Monitoring and Analysis bulletin.

The October 2019 prices of feterita, a popular sorghum variety, in El Gedaref in eastern Sudan and Khartoum were about five times of the October 2017 prices. This means increases of 385 per cent and 414 per cent respectively.

The prices of millet in Khartoum and Nyala, capital of South Darfur, in October 2019 were five and three times of the October 2017 prices respectively (an increase of 417 and 200 per cent), according to the FAO bulletin.

Weak currency, inflation

The exceptionally high level of food prices is the result of the significant depreciation of the country's currency, coupled with fuel shortages and soaring prices of agricultural inputs, which inflated production and transportation costs.

The weak currency, coupled with shortages of hard currency, restrained the country's ability to import food and non-food items, including wheat flour and fuel, thus causing shortages and higher prices, FAO says.

On November 7, the Sudan News Agency (SUNA) reported that the country's annual inflation in October was recorded at 57.7 per cent.

The inflation rate in September was 53.5 per cent, according to an the Central Bureau of Statistics. The increase of the inflation rate was caused to the rising prices of food and beverages.

In its latest Sudan Food Security Outlook for October 2019-May 2020, FEWS NET reports that high staple food prices resulting from significant macroeconomic difficulties, combined with persistent insecurity in conflict-affected areas and flooding late in the rainy season, are contributing to higher than normal emergency food assistance needs in Sudan in the end of this year.

These needs are expected to persist into at least May 2020, particularly as the lean season approaches in agricultural and agro-pastoral areas, FEWS NET estimates.

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