Harvests of the 2019/20 main agricultural season continue in the semi-mechanized areas of Sudan and have been completed in the traditional rainfed sector. According to available field information, yields for key cereals, such as sorghum and millet, are lower than usual this season due to flooding, an extended rainy season, and pest infestations. In addition, field reports suggest increases in area planted in cash crops have led to decreases in area planted for cereal crops, which is likely to drive further declines in cereal production compared to previous years.
Sorghum and millet prices have increased 20 to 45 percent since November 2019 across most markets in Sudan, when prices typically decrease as harvests progress. These price increases have been attributed to expected lower than normal cereal production this year and high production and transportation costs due to continued depreciation of the Sudanese Pound. December 2019 prices for sorghum and millet remained on average 90 and 45 percent higher than last year, respectively, and 320 and 230 percent above the five-year average. Preliminary data suggest prices have continued to increase in January 2020.
The Sudanese Pound has continued to depreciate, reaching 97 SDG/USD in January 2020 versus 81 SDG/USD in November 2019. This continues to limit the ability of the public and private sector to import essential items, including fuel and food commodities such as wheat. Wheat prices are currently on average 37 percent higher than in January 2019 and 232 percent above the five-year average.
Ongoing harvests are improving household food access in many areas in Sudan, although above-average humanitarian needs persist. High prices for staple foods and essential imported goods are continuing to lead households in Darfur, Kordofan, and Red Sea states to face difficulty meeting their livelihoods protection needs, resulting in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in January 2020. Most IDPs in SPLM-N controlled areas of South Kordofan, and in Jebel Marra area of Darfur and poor households in parts of Red Sea and Kassala states continue to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes during harvest period. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected in parts of conflict-affected South Kordofan during the end of the scenario period in May 2020.
The ongoing peace talks in Juba with the SPLM-N al-Hilu and the recent visit by the Sudanese Prime Minister to the SPLM-N held areas in South Kordofan may signal future improvements in population movements and market access between SPLM-N and government-controlled areas. Should further improvements materialize, humanitarian actors may begin to access SPLM-N areas for the first time since the onset the conflict in June 2011.