Currency Exchange Rate: In March 2019, the average exchange rate of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP) to the United States Dollar (USD) stood at SSP 274.87 and SSP 156.94 in the parallel and official markets respectively, compared to SSP 267.68 and SSP 156.21 in February 2019. After July 2018, the divergence of the parallel exchange rate from the official rate reached a new high of 75 percent, due to sustained Bank of South Sudan control of credit lines to the private sector creating an imbalance of demand and supply of hard currency.
Grain Prices: Compared to last month, the prices of staple food commodities including maize grain increased considerably in Rumbek and Aweil, while other markets showed only slight increments or stability of prices, in line with seasonal trends. The increase in prices in Rumbek and Aweil is attributed to the decreased commodity supply from Sudan. On the other hand, pulses and groundnuts, largely consumed across the country, showed stability or drop in prices in most of monitored markets, whilst few markets such as Bor, Mingkaman, Wau and Torit experienced higher prices on either of these items. The higher prices in these markets is attributed to the tight supply in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya because of the drought and from Rwanda due to export bans. However, Juba and Wau markets, serving as a distribution hub to many markets, had a stable price of cereals and pulses.
White sorghum registered the highest price level in Mingkaman and Bor (SSP 600 and at SSP 500/ malwa), and the lowest in Yambio (SSP 188/malwa), a surplus producing area. Sorghum price increased by 11 and 46 percent in Bor, compared to last month and one year ago respectively, while it remained stable in Mingkaman.
Fuel Prices: In March 2019, Juba experienced a temporary scarcity of petrol; this resumed to normal after a few days, indicating that scarcity was not due to a pipeline break. The price of petrol increased very slightly in Juba, about five percent, reaching SSP 225 (0.82 USD) per litre. In Juba, Wau, Torit and Kapoeta South, where formal fuel stations operate, a litre of petrol fetched below one UDS, while in other markets, it ranged from 1.06 in Agok to 2.27 USD in Yambio, with mixed behavior compared to February 2019 and last year the same month.
Terms of Trade: The combined effect of a decline in goat prices and rise in sorghum prices led the ToT to deteriorate in Mingkaman (13%), Bor (28%) and Rumbek (48%), compared to last month, negatively affecting the purchasing power of livestock dependent households. ToT in these markets stood lower (from 14 to 57 percent) than in March 2018. In March, one medium size goat fetched the highest 64 malwa (224 kgs) of sorghum in Juba, and the lowest, 17 malwa (69kgs) in Mingkaman.
Outlook: As the stocks from the households’ own production are running out, more farming households will rely heavily on markets in the absence of food aid. Furthermore, the long-standing scarcity and depreciation of local currency is likely to remain as bottleneck to traders’ ability to supply the markets, this will be worsened off by the Uganda Government tightening of exports due to the current droughts (Uganda is the main supply market). Thus, prices of staple foods are expected to continue increasing in April as the rainy season progresses and the lean season approaches.
Source: World Food Programme