KHARTOUM (Sudanow) - Fatah Arrahman Mohamed Fageer, owner of the “Kul Athamarat" -All Fruits- Farm in the Wadi Sayyidna village had worked abroad for 20 years and when he returned to the Sudan, he was carrying a piece of iron on nearly every part of his body to remedy the acute injury that kept him in a wheelchair.
Then he rose up like a tall date palm to start a life of willfulness that saw him realize his childhood dream: his eternal love for farming; not just farming but farming in a special way.
Speaking to Sudanow, Fageer described himself as “a simple person”, a son of a soldier from the City of Atbara. As a young boy of ten, he sold vegetables in the City’s market, then shuttled between Atbara and Kassala in the far east after his trade, all the time keeping with his education. Then in 1980 he found a job with the National (Ahli) Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia, first in the Kingdom’s Eastern district and then to the Red Sea City of Jeddah.
In Saudi Arabia Fageer noticed that Sudanese expatriates, unlike their peers from other nationalities, purposelessly waste a lot of time. Here he decided to make his stay abroad as short as possible and return to Sudan to realize his dream of having a big fruit farm. His thought was to make an unusual farm, away from the traditional farming techniques followed in his home country.
But so bad for him, he had a car accident on his way from Jeddah to Mecca that kept him in a coma for eleven days after which the doctors concluded that his body was torn apart (into two halves). After several fruitless surgeries, he remained paralyzed, unable to control anything. But he did not give in. He resisted his disability through exercising until his health improved and he stood up, moving on two sticks. He returned to Sudan for sometime and then back to Saudi Arabia to resume his work in the Bank. A year later and while in the Mecca Holy Mosque, he felt sharp pain in his back, that proved to be because of cancer he developed due to the radiations he was exposed to during medical treatment. He was operated on in the Riyadh Royal Hospital to remove the tumor. The surgery also dictated a rib transplant and his back to be fixed with steel after his pelvis was also fixed with the metal. He is still burdened with this metal on his body.
After the surgery he underwent radioactive treatment to eradicate the tumor. The doctors told him that this type of cancer might lead to quadriplegia.
Quadriplegia (or tetraplegia) is when all four limbs are paralyzed, sometimes along with certain organs. That meant he would remain in wheelchair to the rest of his life.
Fageer returned to Sudan in 2005, determined not to succumb to his predicament.
With the money he had he bought a seventy-acre farm in Wadi Sayyidna village, to the north of Omdurman, and started to cultivate it on his own, digging and planting and spending all his day in the farm. He began to feel better and after some research he found out that the presence of chlorophyll in the air around him was good for his health. He also learned that the Egyptian Pharos had used to mummify their dead with chlorophyll. After a period of three years fixed by his doctors for him to develop quadriplegia, those doctors were stunned to find out that he was completely cured from cancer, had become a normal person except for the steel load in his body. But this did not deter him from keeping with hard work.
He set for himself a ten-year plan for which the farm would start to give. Many of those around him used to advise him not to exhaust himself that way. But he remained undaunted.
He fenced his farm, though big as it is. For long five years he stayed working in his farm, until when the fruits of his effort began to show up.
Fageer first began with planting grapes, defying the notion that Sudan’s weather and soil only permit the growing of cereals and legumes. Reading in the Holy Koran he came across the verse that reads: “And we made in them gardens of date palms and grapes.” Here he concluded that grapes can also flourish in places where date palms can flourish, as it is the case in Sudan. Referring to Sudan’s ancient agricultural history, he found out that the Buqt peace agreement between the northern Sudanese Nubians and the Muslim military commander Abdallah Ibn Abi Alsarh had permitted the Nubians to export their grape wine. That means grapes were cultivated in Sudan almost 14 centuries back. He also found olive oil from the ancient Meroite kingdoms in the National Museum of Sudan and this signaled to him the viability of growing this crop in Sudan, contrary to the former belief that the olive tree is a monopoly of temperate zones.
Beginning his farm in 2005, Fageer travelled personally to procure seedlings from abroad, grapes from Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Republic of South Africa. Now he has seven varieties of grapes in his farm, including the high quality Superior variety. The farm also contains pomegranates, both white and red.
It also grows apples which was believed to be an exclusive product of temperate zones. “That is an odd notion. Sudan’s lands can grow olives, grapes and apples with success. All we need is enough humidity and this can be attained by growing these trees near to the rivers,” says Fageer.
He says a certain variety of his grapes yields about two kilograms in a single cluster and its product precedes that of other world regions by three months.
The farm also grows fig and mulberry, both thought to be products of the temperate zones. It also contains 2200 lemon trees of rare qualities. The fruits of these lemons are characterized by their big size. The farm also grows the apple-size Persian rhamnus fruit that hails from China. Besides, the farm contains excellent variety of date palms, moringa beside the domestic crops sesame and groundnuts and other Sudanese spices.
Quite selflessly, Fageer offered his expertise and money to a group of youngsters (both male and female) to start their own farming businesses. The youths were divided into six groups of ten persons each. On top of each group stands an agronomist.
Fageer funded these groups through a “clever partnership” where they work and he lends the money, and on one condition: they work personally on their farms. The groups were divided into two specializations, one for livestock and the other for producing grapes.
Now this agricultural venture has extended over an area of about 500 acres, combining horticulture and livestock fattening.
The farms were arranged in a manner that preserves the soil’s fertility, where a product that destroys the soil is grown near a product that preserves soil fertility.
In conclusion Fageer urged the Sudanese working abroad to have faith in themselves and start their own farming businesses “on this bountiful land.”
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