Cereal production in Sudan severely affected by conflict

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Sudan 2023 Emergency seed distribution campaign. ©FAO/Khalid Ali
Sudan 2023 Emergency seed distribution campaign. ©FAO/Khalid Ali

Director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, evaluates the food security situation on the ground and urges continued global support

Sudan 2023 Emergency seed distribution campaign.©FAO/Khalid Ali
Sudan 2023 Emergency seed distribution campaign.
©FAO/Khalid Ali

Cereal production in the Sudan has been severely affected by the conflict, which erupted in April 2023, likely pushing more people into hunger – the situation requires urgent and at-scale agricultural support ahead of the planting season starting in June, Director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen, warned.

The production of sorghum, millet and wheat in 2023 was estimated at about 4.1 million tonnes, down 46 percent from the output obtained in the previous year and about 40 percent below the average of the previous five years.

“This is a very practical manifestation of the impact of clashes, conflict and violence on food production. We clearly have a context that requires urgent and appropriate support. This is why FAO’s interventions are so incredibly important at this point in time,” said Paulsen, who is currently on a field mission to the country to evaluate the food security situation on the ground.

After a year of civil war, almost 18 million people in Sudan are facing acute food insecurity at IPC 3 level or above (Crisis or worse). Of those, almost 5 million are in IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) and could slip into catastrophic food insecurity (IPC Phase 5) in the coming months. Areas where the conflict has been more intense, including the Greater Darfur and the Greater Kordofan regions and Khartoum State, are those with the most affected populations.

Speaking about FAO’s response, Paulsen noted that activities are mainly focusing on providing seeds and equipment to allow the cultivation of local staple cereals that are vitally important as well as on keeping animals alive. These include emergency veterinary services and access to water and fodder for animals.

Animal health support is critical since the livestock sector provides more than 60 percent of the estimated value added to the agricultural sector. If state veterinary services are not supported, it is anticipated that there will be significant livestock losses. And inadequate consumption of animal sourced food such as milk could drive an increase in malnutrition rates among children in vulnerable states.

The FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience also highlighted the need for timely interventions for the main summer planting season which starts in June: “It is absolutely indispensable that resources are made available for emergency agricultural interventions to provide enough seeds to farmers to make sure that the upcoming cropping season is successful. We typically require funds at best two or three months before the interventions begin, therefore, we have a very high sense of urgency.”

FAO’s Emergency Plan in Sudan for 2024 is budgeted at $104 million. The plan is currently less than 10 percent funded.

“Every time I talk to people who have been displaced, usually they were forced to leave because their livestock died or because their crops were damaged or destroyed. This is why our ability to move quickly to support vulnerable farming households in the Sudan is of the highest importance,” he stressed.

FAO emergency interventions

Between July and September 2023, FAO reached one million farming households or five million farmers with time-critical seed support. During this period, nearly 10 000 tonnes of seeds were delivered to farming households in time for the critical planting season, according to a recent Post-Distribution Monitoring (PDM) Report conducted by FAO.

Despite the multiple challenges, FAO managed to timely deliver seeds to many beneficiaries, as evidenced by 56 percent of the farmers in nine states reporting on-time receipt of seeds. This achievement is particularly noteworthy considering the large scale of operation and demonstrates FAO’s excellent logistical capabilities and commitment to supporting vulnerable farmers in need during the conflict.

FAO prioritizes integrated response approaches to enable local food production of key local staple cereals, provision of time critical emergency livestock and fishery supplies, veterinary services and vaccination that will generate nutrition outcomes and create sustainable and stable livelihood opportunities to pave the way for recovery.

Source:FAO

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