16-October-2019
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How Fares The Sudan's 2019-2020 Agricultural Season?

How Fares The Sudan's  2019-2020 Agricultural Season?

Sorghum farm

By: Amal Abd al-Hameed

 

KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - The plan for the 2019-2020 agricultural season has targeted the cultivation of 49 million acres with field crops. Of this area, 44.9 million acres were to be cultivated in the rain-fed sector and 4.3 million in the irrigated sector, with a total sum of 11 different crops, in both the summer and winter seasons.

 

The Ministry of Agriculture has further specified its requirements of inputs to make this season a success, foremost seeds, fertilizers, funding and gasoline, all taking into consideration weather and rain forecasts.

 

Gasoline requirements were put at about 498,880 cubic liters, in addition to about 445,000 tons of fertilizers for both the irrigated and rain-fed sectors and for both summer and winter seasons.

 

The Sudanese Agricultural Bank has pledged 35 billion Sudanese pounds, including 25 billion as operational finance and 7 billion as capital funding for equipment and machinery.

 

The Central Bank of Sudan was obliged to earmark enough liquidity to finance producers. Recently, and as part of the preparations for the winter farming season, the Ministry of Agriculture has announced its commitment to buy wheat from the farmers at 2500 pounds per a 100 kilogram wheat bag.

 

But despite all these preparations, the agricultural season was faced with some problems and challenges that still persist. These include insufficient fuel and the high cost of or the scarcity of fertilizers and seeds in some farming zones, in addition to a liquidity problem that faced the agricultural season from day one, beside difficulties in transporting fuel to the fields. Some of the country’s states had witnessed heavy downpours that inundated the fields, which were followed by pests in some districts.

 

In order to understand the effect of these problems on the crop output, Sudanow has made a survey of some of the major crop producing areas:

 

The Gedarif State (Eastern Sudan):

At the beginning of the rainy season, the State of Gedarif had cited drawbacks in the cultivation of sesame in its Southern districts due to shortage of fuel and liquidity. Now sesame harvesting has started amid fears from shortages in fuel, liquidity and manpower. The authorities cited the cultivation of 1.5 million acres with this cash crop and are expecting as successful crop season, thanks to the completion of cultivation work at an early stage in addition to the use of agro-technology in cultivation operations. Director of the Mechanized Farming Corporation in Gedarif, Eng. Altayeb Mohammad Ahmed has expected a sesame yield of 5 bags per acre. “The cultivated area promises of a high yield,” he announced.

 

Reports from Gedarif (considered the granary of the country) also indicate a good sorghum production.

 

 

The Gezira Scheme (Central Sudan):

This irrigated scheme is among the projects affected by the recent heavy rain downpours and flashfloods. Vast cotton and sorghum fields were inundated after the major rain water draining canal has collapsed due to administrative negligence. This has inflicted the farmers with tremendous losses, whereby about 80,000 acres were affected by the inundations, according to the Scheme Manger, Engineer Osman Simsa’a.

 

Engineer Simsa’a says they are now projecting an area of 500,000 acres for the coming winter season, including 400,000 acres to be cultivated with wheat and 100,000 acres with legumes and other crops.

 

Simsa’a said they are now working to compensate affected farmers and replace the crops destroyed by the rain with wheat. He called for the provision of 40,000 tons of DAP fertilizers, 20,000 tons of urea, 16,000 bales of jute bags for the winter season. He urged the farmers to apply all the prescribed required technological packages in the winter season.

 

A number of Gezira farmers have considered the price of 25000 pounds set by the government for a 100 KGM wheat bag was “fair and encouraging.” But they are apprehensive of a possible hike in production inputs. Some farmers also concede the weak preparation for the winter crop season.

 

Sinnar State (Central Sudan):

The area cultivated with crops in the Dindir locality of Sinnar State is at the estimate of 1 million acres, including 535,000 acres cultivated with sorghum and 365,000 acres with sesame. The rest of the area has been cultivated with other crops; namely millet, sunflower and cotton. Some 5000 acres were inundated with rain and Dindir river flood thus could not be cultivated with crops. A number of Dindir district farmers are still fearful that the incessant increases of Dindir River water levels could render other areas unproductive if the River happens to go off course, like what happened last year.

 

In the Rahad agricultural scheme (also in Sinnar State) some 36,000 acres cultivated with crops were destroyed by the recent heavy rains that exceeded 350 mm. Scheme manager, Engineer Abdalla Mohammad Ahmed said they have embarked on “ a number of arrangements” to cultivate those rain-destroyed areas during the winter season, in compensation for the farmers.

 

The Sinnnar Agricultural Scheme is known for its big crop productivity. But the scheme farmers say they are in bad need for fertilizers at the moment.

 

Hajo Rahma, a representative of The Ghrisli orchards farmers, said they are in need of fertilizers for their banana, vegetable and onion farms. “A prompt intervention is needed from the State Government to provide fertilizers so that we can save the onion crop and resolve the current onion scarcity in the markets,” he said. He complained that the Agricultural Bank branch is refusing to supply them with fertilizers without giving reasons.

 

The West:

The adequate rainfall has sent a wave of optimism to the farmers of Sudan’s western states rain-fed mechanized farming this season. The rains were heavy and well distributed across the rainy season. In Western Kordofan the farmers were upbeat about a promising crop if it were not for a variety of pests that surfaced in early September. The farmers warn that if concerned authorities would not interfere, the crop season would be in danger. They called upon the Commissioner of Wad Banda, the Forces of Freedom and Change and the area’s agricultural authorities to quickly move to ward off the danger of big swarms of locusts that appeared in the region.

 

The Wad Banda Production and Productivity Director, Eng. Mohammad Alhafiz Mahmood has put the crop growth rate at 75 percent, confirming that groundnut, hibiscus and watermelon crops were not affected by the pests. Mahmood said some crops, namely sesame, millet, maraig, tibish and white beans are out of danger, thanks to a concerted pest control campaign.

 

The State of West Darfur, a state known for its expanses of fertile land, is still bogged in security problems. Abdelmoneim Sheikh Addin, chairman of the Algenaina crop season protection committee, has cited a 25% expansion in the cultivated area this season, compared with last year. He said his committee, in collaboration with the state’s security committee, has laid down a tight security plan to protect the farms. Six patrol posts were established around the area where lawless incidents used to take place.

 

In its turn, the South Darfur State says had taken due measures and precautions against pest attacks. Director of the State’s Production and Economic Resources, Saeed Habeeb said sesame harvesting has already started in some of the State’s districts . He said airstrips were prepared and enough jet fuel was put in place at an early stage, in anticipation of any pest attacks that might occur. This has encouraged the farmers to play their aspired role in the pest control operations, he said.

 

The heavy rainfall in South Darfur is promising of a good harvest this season, in a State known to produce 45% of Sudan’s groundnuts. The introduction of agricultural technology, that reduces effort and cost , coupled with the prevalence of peace and the return of IDPs have helped beef up the cultivated area this season to about 10 million acres, according to official reports.

 

The Northern State:

The Northern State grows a lot of cash crops, fruits, legumes and spices.

Performance in the plan to electrify the State’s agricultural projects is still poor, as compared with the volume of the State’s agricultural investments.

 

Regardless, the summer agricultural season has targeted the cultivation of 500,000 with strategic crops such as sunflower, sesame, sorghum, fodder and fruits. Sunflower and sesame are grown on a small scale in this State.

 

According to the general director of agricultural production Emad Addin Mohammad Ali the state ranks second to the Gezira State with respect to wheat production. “We target the cultivation of 432, 000 acres with wheat this winter,” he said.

 

The White Nile Irrigated Schemes (Central Sudan):

Wide expanses of the Northern Dowaim and Um Rimta schemes were swept by rain and flash floods. However, Under Secretary of Agriculture Babikir Osman says they are keen to prepare these schemes for the winter season. He said some of the inundated schemes are being cultivated with water melons.

 

The State’s production and economic resources director Engineer Alhadi Ajab disclosed that the White Nile State is now ready to cultivate 100,000 acres with wheat in the winter season, confirming that irrigation facilities have been readied and the seeds and fertilizers prepared.

 

Ajab also said they have embarked on the preparations for the summer season harvest, in particular sesame (that promises of a good output), groundnuts and cotton.

 

He said the cultivated area this summer is 3,990,000 acres of which 1,4806,00 acres were cultivated with sesame.

 

Ajab has confirmed that the sesame harvesting will not face a manpower problem this season after the provision of mechanical harvesters.

 

The Blue Nile Projects (South-East):

The Blue Nile State has cultivated 1,6 million acres with sorghum and 750,000 acres with sesame.

 

Engineer Mohammad Ghurashi, rapporteur of the chamber for monitoring the agricultural season said forecasts indicate a “high productivity” as compared with the previous seasons.

 

He said no pests were reported in the area this season. He expected an average yield per acre at 4-45 100 kilogram bag of sorghum, and that if the concerned farmer has applied the prescribed technological pancakes this amount can go up to over 12 bags.

 

Despite the problems reported here and there, experts expect a good harvest this season. For one, entrepreneur, chairman of the exporters chamber Wajdi Salih, has said “the crop season is good this time.”

 

“We expect a high yield in most of the crops, in particular sorghum, groundnuts and sesame,” he said. 

 

Salih, who cultivates wide crop plantations around the country, expected the volume of agricultural exports to jump to about 2 billion US dollars, compared to 1.5 billion last year. 

 

The economic experts consider agriculture to be the locomotive of Sudan’s economy. “Agriculture requires political support and should be the priority of the government,” said economist Mohammad Alnayir, who summed up the prerequisites for better agricultural performance into:

 

- The indigenization of improved seed production in Sudan, concentrating on states with high agricultural potentials. 

- Availing suitable funding for producers to rid them the trouble of borrowing from greedy traders. 

- Use of modern technology and mechanization to cut on the loss resulting from manual farming and harvesting. 

- Provision of harvest requirements. 

- Conduction of satellite surveys to assess expected yield. This can help with required planning, damage assessment and surplus and shortage assessment.

 

However, comprehensive report about the rain season and crop productivity is still not available. A more reliable report is expected from the central Ministry of Agriculture and FAO by the end of October when full and final statistics are made about the situation of crop production in summer farming season.

 

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YH/AS

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