Khartoum, (sudanow.info.sd) - While the Northern State was suffering a low productivity of wheat due to the high price of the production inputs, traditional farmer Abdul Ghani Abdul Latif, of Belnarte Island of Argo Locality, managed to produce a little bit more than 300 sacks from a 10-feddan plot he cultivated on the island where he lives.
Farmers in the region have persisted for years, despite the circumstances, growing crops, particularly wheat, but the high prices of inputs went up beyond their resources and they say that the government should subsidize agricultural activity there, like other states of the country.
Farmer Abdul Latif told Sudannow(sudanow.info.sd) that he had used 7.5 sacks of wheat seeds, ‘Wadi al-Neil’ specimen, after cleaning them thoroughly from impurities. He also used good insecticides and 15 barrels of gasoline at 3,900 Sudanese pounds each. He said he had financed the farming by himself, suffering a great deal, particularly the gasoline price, which has continued to rise steadily, and recently rose to 80 Sudanese pounds.
The Deputy Coordinator of the National Wheat Production Project, Dr. Islam Mohamed Khair, described the rate of productivity achieved by Farmer Abdul Latif as “very high” compared with the productivity rate in most regions over more than one agricultural season.
Deputy Coordinator Khair said farmers in North Sudan can achieve up to 45 or more sacks of wheat per feddan, provided the soil fertility is high, in addition to securing availability of all production prerequisites, and including early planting, good seeds and timely irrigation.
He added that some of the investment projects in the Northern and River Nile states also scored a good rate of wheat production this season, as the Egyptian Hoi Mea Project in Northern State achieved 24 sacks a feddan and Al-Rajhy (Saudi) Project in Berber (River Nile) achieved an average of 17 sacks per feddan.
The Government’s Role:-
Dr. Khair said the Agricultural Research Organization has recommended the growing of ‘Wadi al-Neil’ specimen in the Northern and River Nile states because this specimen requires a longer winter. The Agricultural Research Organization approved this specimen in 1987. The Specimen requires 65 -70 days to blossom and 80 - 90 days to mature. The plant is 7 - 8 cm long and the productivity is 10 - 14 sacks per feddan. Farmers can expand areas of cultivation of wheat and can pay more attention to growing wheat, provided the government purchases the production for 250 pounds a sack, Khair revealed, adding that the government should do this to help upgrade wheat production and elevate the rate of local sufficiency in the future.
The Deputy Wheat Production Coordinator said the farmers switched their preference to Egyptian beans because it brings about 300 pounds a sack compared with only 150 pounds for a sack of wheat. He said the average sacks of wheat per feddan, in the last harvest season was only 4, in nine states that grow wheat.
Speaking about the low productivity of wheat during the last season, Dr. Khair said it was 9 sacks per feddan in the Gezira Scheme, 13 sacks in Northern State, 10 sacks in River Nile State, 11 sacks in Shendi, 6 sacks in New Halfa and 4 sacks in the Souki project, while the average production was 4 sacks in all these projects.
He said all the 415,000 feddans cultivated this season yielded 385,000 tons of wheat, representing 15% of the country’s consumption. Agriculture in Northern State, especially growing wheat in the state’s fertile soil and cold weather, faces the challenge of soaring prices of production inputs, threatening the economic and social aspects of life for the majority of these people who have been historically linked to the land and its cultivation.
The farmers say they have been fighting against the circumstances for years to continue with their farming activities, particularly wheat growing, but the hikes of the prices of the production inputs have weakened their persistence to continue practicing farming activities. They say the government must properly plan and consider supporting the agriculture there to cope with the price hikes, compared with the situation in other states of the country.
The Financial Affairs Secretary of the Executive Bureau of the Farmers Union in the Northern State, Abdul Shafie Khabir, had previously stated that the government agricultural policies represented one of the main reasons of the problem. “If we want to correct this situation and restore the agriculture in the State to its past glory, the state must bear the cost, subsidize gasoline and speed up electrification of the projects.”
Good Wheat Supplies:
FAO estimates that the wheat production for 2012 will be around 690 million tons, that is, 1.4% less than the 2011-recorded figure, with no change from the last month. Despite this decrease, the wheat supplies for 2012/2013 will exceed the requirements due to the huge stocks, in accordance with FAO food prices indicator for the current month.
FAO Director-General José Da Silva, speaking at the opening session of FAO Board meeting last week, predicted that the decrease in food prices, due to the previous bumper harvests and increasing stocks, would practically result in a decrease in the numbers of the world’s hungry people during 2012. He warned, however, that food security in the Sahel and Horn of Africa “is still grave.”