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Saturday, 07 April 2018

Sudan Crop and Food Supply Assessment in 2018 (4)

Area planted and harvested in 2017/18. This year, a decrease of 20 percent over last year in the area planted to sorghum

, from 11.4 to 9.1 million hectares has been recorded. The decrease has been mostly in the traditional rainfed sector where a 28 percent reduction has been registered, while in the mechanized rainfed and the irrigated sectors, a 15 and 26 percent decline, respectively, has been observed.

The reasons for this decrease are different. In Blue Nile, Gezira Scheme, Rahad, New Halfa, Sennar and Northern states, the expectation that sorghum prices would decline after the production record of last year encouraged many farmers to opt for other crops with more attractive prices, mainly sesame and cotton, but also millet and vegetables.
In River Nile, Khartoum, Gedaref, Gezira and South Darfur states, the reduced area planted has been a consequence of a delayed start of seasonal rainfall. In White Nile State, farmers opted for shorter cycle crops such as watermelon and karkadé, while in Kassala and North Kordofan states, they replanted several times with no success. In Gash and Tokar schemes, seasonal river floods were late and low limiting the use of spate irrigation, with a consequent decline in total cultivated area.
By contrast, the area planted with sorghum increased in Sennar, West Kordofan and Red Sea states due to favourable rainfall, while in South Kordofan and West Darfur states, a local improvement in civil security was also a key factor.
The total area harvested in 2017 is 6.3 million hectares, 33 percent less than last year (9.4 million), but still 6 percent above the 2011 -2016 five-year average. It is about 69 percent of the total area planted, while last year it was 82 percent. This is due mostly to the poor rains in the semi-mechanized rainfed sector, where 34 percent was not harvested.
The area planted to millet in 2017 is 3.8 million hectares, 8 percent less than the 4.1 million hectares of last year. In Tokar, the only irrigation scheme to grow millet, a reduction in area of 23 percent was registered and the whole traditional rainfed sector, where millet is normally grown, scored a 10 percent decline. In the mechanized rainfed sector, the area planted to millet was 17 percent higher (Sennar, Gedaref, Blue Nile) as a consequence of the higher prices expected and the better tolerance of millet to drought.
At the national level, the proportion of harvested area to planted area is 69 percent (4 percent below last year).
The area harvested in 2017 (Table 1 0) is 2.6 million hectares, 13 percent less than last year but 16 percent higher than the 2011 -2016 five-year average.
Although planting of the 2017/18 wheat crop had just started at the time of the Mission, the total planted area was anticipated at about 173 000 hectares, compared to 254 000 hectares last year and an average of 230 000 hectares over the last five years. The significant decline is mainly due to the fact that farmers in Gezira Scheme are switching to more profitable winter crops like chickpeas and pigeon peas.

Crop yields

The average sorghum yield is estimated at 0.59 tonnes per hectare, 13 percent less than the yield obtained in 2016, but similar to the last five-year average. The greatest decrease was observed in the semi-mechanized rainfed sector where the average yield of 0.54 tonnes/hectare was 21 percent below that of 2016 but 8 percent above the average of the last five years. However, the irrigated sector is reported at 2.3 tonnes/hectare, almost 20 percent more than last year.
The average millet yield is estimated at 0.36 tonnes/hectare, 24 percent below that of 2016/17, but 7 percent above the average of the last five years. The greatest decrease in the traditional rainfed sector was registered in Kassala State, with declines also in North and South Darfur states. Above-average yields have been reported in West Darfur State. In Tokar Scheme, the only Scheme producing millet under irrigation, the average yield is estimated at 1 tonne/hectare, 14 percent lower than last year. The wheat crops, apart from the small rainfed area on the Jebel Marra in South and Central Darfur states, are grown under irrigation and there is usually very little fluctuation in annual average yields.

Cereal production forecast

Following the decreases in harvested area and yield, the production of sorghum and millet in 2017 is expected to be below the record levels of last year. Sorghum production is estimated at 3.743 million tonnes, almost 40 percent below the level of the previous year, but still 7 percent higher than the five-year average. Millet production is estimated at about 954 000 tonnes, 35 percent below the record production of last year, but exceeding the 20 percent average of the last five years.


Production of sesame is estimated at 861 000 tonnes, 64 percent higher than last year. This is mainly due to a 26 percent increase in harvestable area with an average yield of 0.32 tonnes/hectare, 31 percent higher than last year.

The production of groundnuts in the traditional rainfed sector was 15 percent below the level of 2017, with decreases in the area harvested (5 percent) and yield (11 percent). By contrast, production increased by 8 percent in the irrigated sector as a result of a 3 percent increase in area planted and a slightly higher yield.
Overall groundnut production is estimated at 1.60 million tonnes (Table 18), 15 percent below the 2016 output which received favourable rainfall. The average yield this year was 0.72 tonnes/hectare, slightly lower than that of last year (0.79 tonnes/hectare).


Sunflowers are grown both under irrigated and rainfed conditions in the semi-mechanized rainfed sector. There was an increase in the irrigated area this year and the average yield is estimated at 1.41 tonnes/hectare, slightly below last year’s level (Table 19). In the semi-mechanized rainfed sector there was a significant increase in the area harvested from 122 000 hectares in 2016 to 202 000 hectares this year. Yield in this sector was also up from 0.71 tonnes/hectare to 0.76 tonnes/hectare. In the irrigated and the semi-mechanized sectors there was an increase in production from 87 000 to 153 000 tonnes.

Pigeon peas

Pigeon peas used to be planted primarily as a border crop which provided a convenient food security safety net (because of its drought tolerance) and an efficient protection from wind for the main crop (especially for cotton).
The recent increase in cultivation as a sole crop under irrigation, has been prompted by growing international demand for the grain, especially from India where it is used to prepare dal.
Last year’s record production of 165 000 tonnes (with a total area planted of 378 000 hectares) depressed market prices and farmers in 2017 decided to shift to other crops, mainly chickpeas with a consequent 40 percent decrease in the area planted and a total output of only about 88 000 tonnes. However, the demand and prices of pigeon peas have been high in 2017 and the crop continues to be a good opportunity for export, given the poor production obtained in 2017 in Myanmar, the main provider to India.


Sugar is produced by the Kenana Sugar Company, the White Nile Sugar Company and the Sudanese Sugar Company, which has four estates and factories in Guneid, New Halfa, Sennar and Asalaya. According to preliminary estimates, there have been increases in both area harvested and production for the three companies compared to last year. The overall refined sugar production is 7 percent higher than last year.


Harvested area of cotton has more than doubled compared with that of last year and average yields are about 1 2 percent higher. The observed production is three times higher than last year.
The expansion in area is largely due to the expected high market price of cotton and to the presence of private producing companies with better financial possibilities. Cotton cultivation is highly labour-demanding and
shortages of workers have been reported in key-producing areas.
Higher average yields have been obtained in New Halfa (4.0 tonnes/hectare) and in Gezira Scheme (3.9 tonnes/hectare), where 50 percent of the cultivated varieties are genetically modified. Generally, pest control has been effective but thrips attacked about 50 percent of the area cultivated in Rahad causing a drop in productivity.


Water and pasture availability has been favourable in 2017 in the areas where seasonal rainfall has been adequate. By contrast, because of poor precipitations and long dry spells in Kassala, Gedaref, Khartoum states and in the northern parts of South Darfur, East Darfur and North Kordofan states, water points and pastures were in poor conditions at the time of the Mission. Before the start of the next seasonal rainfall in June, livestock movements in search of feeding to other areas are likely to lead to overgrazing, conflicts between farmers and pastoralists and increased risks of disease transmissions due to the high concentration of animals in small areas of pasture. Moreover, the limited access to the rich pastures of South Sudan, due to the closure of the border, will necessarily increase pressure on the already over exploited lands. Livestock from nearby regions are likely to move to Gezira and Sennar states, while herders from Chad are expected to cross the border in North and West Darfur.
In 2017, movements of livestock have been much less restricted by civil unrest if compared to recent past years, with the only exception of White Nile, South Kordofan and North Kordofan states, where farmland expansion has generated limitations to animals’ movement. Crop residues are available, but they are not free of charge as for many farmers they represent a good source of income, especially in times of poor production. Livestock condition at the time of the Mission was good and no major disease outbreaks have been reported; the vaccination campaign, albeit with some localized delays and shortages of vaccines (Blue Nile, Gedarif, Rahad, Kassala and Northern states) has been carried out as usual.

Crop and livestock markets

Prices of locally-produced sorghum and millet normally show seasonal declines in October/November with the start of the main harvest and remain generally stable through March, before rising in August/September. However, in 2017, after some decline in October, prices of cereals surged again in November, reaching historical highs. The steep increases were driven by several factors. The sharp depreciation of the local currency in the parallel market caused a significant growth in the general inflation rates and, as a result, in the prices of imported agricultural inputs. Prices of cereals also received support from the expected reduction in production in 2017, following a decline in area planted as farmers switched to cash crops that are more profitable. In addition, prices of sorghum, which is used to feed animals in lack of grazing pastures, were affected by the increased demand for feed from the livestock sector in the areas where poor rainfall negatively affected pasture lands.
As illustrated in Figure 3, nominal wholesale prices of sorghum reached record high levels in most markets in November 2017, ranging from SDG 317 to SDG 470 per 90 kg sack. In South Kordofan and Gedaref states, prices of sorghum increased by 58 and 45 percent, respectively, driven by localized production deficits and limited carryover stocks from the previous season. In North Darfur State, prices increased by 5 percent in November, but were still 10 percent below their record levels in September 2016, partially due to the improved security situation following the ongoing weapon collection campaign.