The wali of northern Sudan state bans wheat exports

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The Wali (governor) of Northern Sudan State has issued an emergency order prohibiting the transfer of locally produced wheat out of the state. This amid concerns about a general shortage and soaring wheat prices in Sudan, which depends on imports from the Black Sea region, currently troubled by war in Ukraine.

On Friday, Wali El Baqir Ahmed Ali issued an emergency order prohibiting the transfer of any amount of locally produced wheat out of the Northern State, without written permission from the Ministry of Production and Economic Resources. This does not include small amounts considered for personal use.

Authorities warn that violating this order is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of at least SDG 100,000. Any wheat transported in violation of the order will be seized by the Northern State government. The order also authorizes the seizure of any vehicle used for illegal transportation.

The food crisis is looming

A worsening food crisis looms in Sudan amid economic downturn, displacement and ruined crops, exacerbated by the aftermath of the October 25 military coup. A report published in March by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) warns that the combined effects of conflict, economic crisis and poor harvests are significantly affecting the people’s access to food and will likely double the number of people facing acute hunger in Sudan to over 18 million people by September 2022.

In recent months, there has been an increase in the number of people displaced by the conflict in parts of Darfur and Kordofan. This insecurity has eroded livelihoods, damaged farms and triggered widespread unemployment.

The depreciation of the Sudanese pound (SDG) in addition to rising food and transport costs is making it harder for families to put food on the table. A lack of access to hard currency will likely lead to further depreciation of the Sudanese pound.

The Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) FAO and WFP report indicates that the national cereal production of the 2021/22 agricultural season is expected to reach 5.1 million metric tons. This will only cover the needs of less than two-thirds of the population, leaving many people dependent on humanitarian food aid and dependent on imports of essential cereals at prices beyond the reach of most people.

The situation looks grim for millions as the conflict in Ukraine causes further spikes in food prices as Sudan relies on wheat imports from the Black Sea region. The interruption of the grain flow to Sudan will increase prices and make it more difficult to import wheat. Currently, local wheat prices are above $550 per ton, an increase of 180% compared to the same period in 2021.

A WFP report released in April laments that the national average retail price of food in Sudan has risen dramatically, making “nutritious food unaffordable for many families”.

The WFP said the average retail price of sorghum in Sudan in March was SDG 198 per kilo, marking a sharp increase of 20% from February. While the price of wheat flour stood at SDG 681 per kilo, a sharp increase of 14% compared to the previous month. The average price of a goat of SDG 18,958 per head fell slightly by 1.33% compared to the previous month. The price of groundnuts reached SDG 11,548 per bag, representing a significant increase of 14% from the previous month.

WFP said “the average cost of the WFP domestic food basket rose to SDG 349.93, a sharp increase of nearly 20% from the previous month.”

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