Sudan

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Staple foods at the local market in El Obeid, North Kordofan, Leni Kinzli/WFP, March 2021
Staple foods at the local market in El Obeid, North Kordofan, Leni Kinzli/WFP, March 2021

Wheat and sorghum prices continued to increase in March

The national average retail prices for sorghum and wheat continued to increase in March 2021, while the national average cost of a local food basket marginally decreased in March compared to February, according to the March 2021 World Food Programme (WFP) Market Monitor.

In March 2021, the average retail price of wheat flour was 261.9 Sudanese pound per kg, which is an increase of 7.9 per cent compared to February 2021. This was mainly due to the deterioration in the value of the Sudanese currency during January and early February 2021, and the liberalization of the exchange rate in mid-February. Sudan is dependent on wheat imports, which are an estimated of 70-80 per cent of the annual consumption. The average retail price of wheat was about 255 per cent higher than the same period of the previous year, according to the WFP Market Monitor.

The average retail price of sorghum reached 98 Sudanese pounds per kg in March 2021, an increase of 0.9 per cent compared to February 2021. This slight rise is due to an increase in the supply of sorghum as a result of the onset of the new production season and stabilization in the exchange rate. Sorghum prices are expected to remain stable or slightly increase during the coming few months. The average retail price of sorghum was higher by 181 per cent compared to March 2020, while it was 640 per cent higher than the average of the past five years of March.

Meanwhile, in March 2021 the average cost of the WFP local food basket decreased by 1.43 per cent compared to February (149.5 Sudanese pounds). It is 182.4 per cent higher compared to March 2020. For more information and details please see the WFP Market Monitor.

Echoing the WFP Market Monitor, the latest Food Prices Monitoring and Analysis Bulletin by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization said that sorghum and millet prices in March 2021 were exceptionally high, up to three times the already high March 2020 levels, mainly due to the depreciation of the local currency.

Cereal prices began to follow a sustained increasing trend in late 2017 due to the macro-economic situation, coupled with fuel shortages and the high costs of agricultural inputs and transportation. In 2020, disruptions to marketing and trading activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread floods provided further upward pressure on prices, according to the FPMA Bulletin.

The Government-led 2020 Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission estimates the sorghum and millet production is at 7.07 million tonnes, 11 per cent up from 2019 and 23 per cent higher than the average of the previous five years. This was mainly due to an increase in planted area as a result of high market prices of grains, which prompted farmers to increase production. However, as a result of soaring input prices inflating production costs, the commercialization of 2020 coarse grain crops, gathered in late 2020 and early 2021, did not translate into a reduction of market prices. For more information, please see the April 2021 issue of the FPMA.

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