Sorghum and millet prices atypically continue to increase despite harvest
Despite the ongoing harvest, in November and December, the retail prices of sorghum and millet have atypically increased across most main production and consumption markets, the FEWS NET reported in its December 2020 Sudan Food Security Outlook Update. In most markets, prices have reported a 10-20 per cent monthly increase between October through December.
Across main markets, sorghum sold on average for 82 SDG/kg in December 2020 compared to 70 and 72 SDG/kg for October and November, respectively. According to the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), the exchange rate for 1 US$ is 55 SDG, while the rate in the parallel market is 262 SDG.
Current sorghum and millet prices remained on average 240-300 per cent higher than respective 2019 prices and seven times above the five-year average. This unseasonal increase in sorghum and millet prices is impacted by the rapid depreciation of the Sudanese Pound and extremely high production and transportation costs, delays in the harvest, a lower than anticipated harvest, and limited carryover stock at the market and household level. Higher than typical cereal demand during the harvest period is keeping market supplies low as big traders seek to build their stocks in anticipation of high prices in the lean season and increased demand by humanitarian actors providing support to Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan.
Projected Outlook through May 2021
The latest projection update from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) on food security in Sudan estimated that 7.1 million people (16 per cent of the population) faced acute food insecurity in October-December 2020.
Meanwhile, the ongoing main agricultural season harvest is improving household food access from own production and in-kind payments from agricultural labour, according to FEWS NET. Food security outcomes for many areas will improve to Minimal (IPC Phase 1) and Stressed (IPC Phase 2). However, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcome will likely persist among IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, IDPs and conflict-affected families in Jebel Marra in Darfur and newly arrived refugees in eastern Sudan through February 2021.
However, emergency food assistance needs are expected to remain above typical levels through the harvest period due to the continued influx of refugees from Ethiopia, protracted displacement in Darfur and South Kordofan, and the economic impact of COVID-19, along with the persistent macro-economic crisis.
In urban centers, poor households are likely to have below-average food access through May 2021 due to the extremely high food prices limiting household purchasing power. Together with the second wave of COVID-19, the continued macroeconomics crisis will continue reducing household access to income-earning opportunities. Poor urban households will likely continue facing difficulty meeting their basic food needs, driving an increase in the number of households facing Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity outcomes.
If further COVID-19 containment measures are imposed, the number of urban poor households facing Crisis (IPC phases 3) outcomes are expected to increase, particularly with the beginning of the lean season in April/May 2021, FEWS NET said.
For more information and detail, please see the FEWS NET update at this link