The net cereal production in 2018 (after deduction of post-harvest losses and seed use) in the traditional sector is estimated at about 745 000 tonnes, 15.5 percent below the average of the previous five years and 2.5 percent less than 2017. It is the smallest recorded output since the start of the conflict.
With a projected population of about 11.56 million in mid-2019, the overall cereal deficit in the January-December 2019 marketing year is estimated at about 518 000 tonnes, 11 percent above the deficit estimated for 2018.
In January 2019, 54 percent of the population (about 6.2 million people) were in IPC (Integrated Phase Classification) Phase 3: Crisis, Phase 4: Emergency and Phase 5: Catastrophe. This is only a modest decrease from the levels reached in September 2018, but it shows a 13 percent increase compared to the same time last year, indicating a steadily worsening food security situation. These proportions are projected to increase in May-July 2019 to 60.3 percent, including a possible 50 000 people in Phase 5: Catastrophe. This is despite the planned humanitarian assistance, in the absence of which the figure would reach 67 percent. The most serious situations are in Unity, Jonglei and Lakes states.
Household food insecurity has reached new records in 2018: 74 percent of the population was estimated to be food insecure at post-harvest time. This mostly arises from a spike in severe food insecurity across the country, with 26 percent of the population severely food insecure by late 2018. In the coming lean period of mid-2019, food insecurity levels are expected to increase further.
The poor performance of the 2018 cropping season was mainly due to below-average and erratic rains constraining yields, and persisting and protracted insecurity disrupting agricultural activities.
Harvested area in 2018 remained well below the pre-conflict levels, despite a slight increase compared to 2017 due to localized security improvements that encouraged some displaced farmers to return and engage in agricultural activities.
Outbreaks of Fall Armyworm (FAW) and other common pests caused mild to average damage to maize and sorghum crops.
Despite below-average and erratic rains, the availability of pasture and water for livestock was adequate and animal body conditions were average. However, insecurity continued to alter marketing/migration routes.
The country is facing a protracted macro-economic crisis, and the Gross Domestic Product, which has been decreasing since 2015, contracted by a further 3.5 percent in 2018.
The South Sudanese Pound appreciated in the parallel market by about 25 percent in the second semester of the year, but it remains substantially depreciated.
Inflation declined, albeit irregularly, throughout 2018. However, as of end-2018, it was still very high, with the year-on-year inflation rate estimated in October 2018 at more than 40 percent.
Cereal prices declined by 10-50 percent in the second semester of 2018 as the South Sudanese Pound appreciated in the parallel market and newly harvested crops increased supplies. However, prices remained at very high levels, underpinned by tight supplies, insecurity-related market disruptions, high overall inflation and a weak currency.
The number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the country stood at 1.87 million in December 2018 and the number of refugees in neighbouring countries was close to 2.3 million. Following improvements in security, the refugee caseload declined by about 10 percent in the last quarter of 2018, decreasing for the first time since the start of the conflict in 2013.
Under the 2019 Emergency Livelihood Response programme, FAO plans to support 800 000 severely food insecure farming, fishing and agro-pastoral households with emergency livelihood support, by giving priority to the most vulnerable people, including women-headed households, internally displaced persons, returnees and host communities.
In 2019, WFP plans to assist just under 5.4 million people in South Sudan with nearly 325 000 tonnes of food assistance, including refugees and nutrition support activities.
Source: World Food Programme