By Sharon Atieno

The food insecurity situation witnessed in Sudan due to the ongoing conflict is likely to worsen, largely due to an increase in cereal shortage.

This is according to the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) report on Sudan Food Security Outlook.

FEWS NET estimates that the cereal availability gap will be around two million metric tons, driven by below-average 2023/2024 harvests of the main cereals, severe import reductions, and widespread looting of private stocks.

Cereal production losses are expected to be particularly high in areas proximate to urban centers of conflict in Greater Darfur, Greater Kordofan, and Al Jazirah.

Worst hit areas are expected to be parts of West Darfur, areas with very high concentrations of protracted and often re-displaced persons – including in large camps close to major urban centers of Greater Darfur – and some neighborhoods in Khartoum.

According to FEWS NET, these areas are the worst affected by conflict in terms of the scale of disruption to livelihoods, loss of assets, intermittent blockades that have resulted in food shortages, and telecommunication difficulties that have restricted access to remittances and community support.

The main summer season harvest of sorghum and millet is expected to be 30 and 50 percent below average, respectively as a result of conflict and in-security-related disruptions.

The disruptions took place during the preparation and cultivation (typically occurring between May and June) and harvesting in areas heavily affected by conflict during the harvesting window of October to January (depending on crop and region).

The conflict disruptions during harvesting were most pronounced in parts of Al Jazirah, Sennar, White Nile, Gedaref, and South Kordofan and were further compounded by low access to financing, high cost and shortage of inputs and machinery, and scarcity of labor.

Additionally, climate change resulting in the spatial and temporal disparities in rainfall through the main season, particularly in the center and southeast parts of the country is another cause for the decline in production.

Average wheat production in Sudan is expected to reduce by 50%, due to current conditions in the Gezira scheme of Al Jazirah state- which contributes 40 percent of the country’s domestic wheat production. The scheme headquarters have been overtaken by Rapid Support Forces (RSF), inputs have been widely looted, massive displacement has occurred, and communities continue to be terrorized.

Production in other irrigated areas, including New Halfa in Kassala and the recession areas of Northern, is expected to decrease due to the costs of inputs and lack of financing.

Though Sudan normally relies on imports to meet 80-85% of annual wheat consumption requirements, the imports have declined during the last two years. This has been attributed to the continued political instability and conflict, shortages of foreign exchange reserves at the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS), and continued local currency depreciation, which limited the government and private sector’s ability to import sufficient wheat to meet import requirements.