On the World Food Day: Call for Return to Sudanese “Jubraka” to Fend off Malnutrition

By: Mohammed Osman

Khartoum, October (Sudanow) -When it became too hard for veteran traditional farmer, Abd Allah Sulieman, to continue working in his remote farm in the Abu Hugar locality, Blue Nile state of Central Sudan, he found haven in nurturing a small garden adjacent to his house, to secure not only his own fresh vegetables but also provide neighours with fresh, chemical free produce.

An area of 42 square meters only and a hanful of seeds, have enabled Abd Allah Sulieman, to plant native fruit trees, medically known for their highly nutritional value such as "Gudaim", flower trees and vegetables underneath, for his extended family consumption, but equally providing fodders for home grown animals. He even sells molokhia and arugula during the seasons of scarcity.

“I enjoy working in my garden, small hours of the morning, or simply sitting beneath the shades of the trees sipping my tea in the evenings. Am used to hearing passersby expressing admiration for my plants. Some ask me how they could start similar project” he said cheerfully.


His family noted that Mr. Abd Allah was no showing any signs of depression- usually associated with inactive senior citizens- because working in the garden gave him exercise, feeling of being useful and opportunity for communication with family members and neighbors.

Despite such countless dividends, it was noticed that Sudanese people have neglected home vegetable gardens which were widely practiced in the past, locally known as the “jubraka”.

Senior women interviewed by Sudanow in Khartoum and outside, consented they have experienced this activity at some point of their lives explaining how such practices used to supply their families with fresh and safe produce, money savings and enjoyment of beautiful scenary.
It could not escape the notice of outside observers that a sort of nostalgia appeared on their faces when they recall this memory and they vowed to return to Jubraka cultivation as if they had been waiting for someone to remind them of the benefits of gardening. Similarly, the factors that led them to neglect this activity seem to be alike.

“It is laziness… families at urban areas cite small spaces as factor hindering them from engaging in such an activity, but they can afford space wide enough to secure even only part of their daily vegetables needs…loot at our neighbors, the Egyptians, they grow vegetables on the balconies and roofs of their homes… seeds are available at suitable prices in all markets” Mrs. Alawia Saad, a housewife living in Sharq al Nil Locality, argued, adding “ The new generation is not interested in gardening or our traditional practices as a whole, … my daughter prefers the vacant lots to be covered with ceramic… in place of planting”.

She explained that people, and women in particular, are now engaged in quick–profit businesses such as selling kisra (traditional bread) and other family requirements.

Jubraka or Home vegetable garden, the practice usefulness is known in as many areas in the world, not only at times of peace but at times of hardships.


During World War I and World War II the victory gardens, also known as “war gardens” or food gardens for defense, were planted at private residences and public parks in the United States and some European countries to reduce the pressure on the public food supply brought on by the war effort. The US Department of Agriculture estimates that “more than 20 million victory gardens were planted. Fruit and vegetables harvested in these home and community plots was estimated to be 9-10 million tons, equal to all commercial production of fresh vegetables”.

In today’s prices hike of basic commodities, and the spread of malnutrition, particularly among third world children, returning to home raised vegetables and livestock becomes a necessity and a way out.

A recent report published by the Federal Ministry of Health shows that %35 of children under five in Sudan are chronically stunted and %16 are wasted, both conditions reflect malnutrition. This means about one in three Sudanese children currently struggle with the immediate condition of malnutrition and face the prospects of its damaging, long-term effects. Stunting in particular can lead to children’s irreversible, impaired development or in other words they will be non-productive persons.

Such a situation is reversible, using such simple technique as Jubraka gardening.

Mrs. Manal Abdullah Mohamed Ali, Horticulturalist working in an IFAD (The International Fund for Agricultural Development) project in Sinnar State, highlights how at minimum cost a family can obtain sufficient supply of fresh vegetables.

“The project involves many villages in the State. It has started with the poorer families in every village with the aim of alleviating children suffering in communities characterized by women illiteracy and low income. The Jubraka land is owned by the household. What they need is learning basic skills on how to restore the fertility of the depleted land. "She told sudanow.info.sd.

Mrs Ali explains that revitalizing the yield of the land could be achieved through tilling the soil with organic fertilizer “compost” which is prepared by mixing animals dung and plants leftovers with water and crop rotation as well as the benefits of vegetables cultivation and provision of improved seeds as start.

The IFAD project has afforded these needs and the women grow now many crops which give yields in a shorter time such as arugula, cucumber, lady fingers, traditional sugar cane, maize, tomatoes, water melon and radish.

She said thorn tree branches are used as hedges and residual of the plants used for feeding chickens. IFAD also provides the community with gas stoves instead of charcoal to preserve the environment.

Group of villagers in a meeting with IFAD official on the merits of small plot farming in the village of Abu Hojar  (expert in white sudanese Tobe)

Manal says the overall evaluation of the project has not yet been conducted. However, she pinpointed, there is remarkable improvement in the situation of families involved in the project therefore other families are resentful why they didn’t enroll also in the project!

She invited Sudanese women to grow vegetables at home for the benefit of children and to avoid chemical fertilizers hazards, affirming that it doesn't cost a lot of skill, space or money.


Dr. Sumaya Al Bashir, lecturer at the School of Health Sciences- Ahfad University for Women, stresses the need to grow vegetable gardens given the present situation of hunger and shrinking of agricultural land due to government policy of turning them into other purposes.

We, as nutritionists and agriculturalists, Dr Al Bashir argues, call for growing these gardens at both homes, schools and khalwa (Quran studies schools) to fulfill the needs for vitamins and minerals, and improve them by raising some goats and chickens to create a life cycle where the animals residuals will be used as organic fertilizers for the crops and the latter can then be fed back to the animals.

“From my own personal experience I can tell you that if you have an area of 1×3 meters only it can help economically. I had a home garden when I was at my parent house in which I used to grow vegetables using seeds brought from a relative living in a rural area, raise a small goat to obtain milk and some chickens for eggs” she said adding Laughingly “the goat lived to see its granddaughters”.

ifad one

The celebration organized by the School last Wednesday on the World Food Day, 16 October 2013, focused on the importance of sustainable food systems, such as adding nutrients to foods, e. g iron to the bread, animals raising and home gardening, as the best way for realizing nutrition and good health instead of taking medicines and Supplementary foods.


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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