Farming important again in Sudan

Several Gulf States and Egypt have leased agricultural land in Sudan in recent years. They wish to achieve food security by cultivating on foreign lands to feed their own populations.

Sudan had a well-functioning farming sector in the past, but the government began to neglect agriculture after oil was discovered in the late 1990s. With the independence of South Sudan, three-quarters of the oil revenues were lost and the Sudanese government once again needed to focus on agriculture.

Farida Mahgoub has a background as an official at the ministry of agriculture in Sudan. She is now an intern at the NAI Rural Cluster and will write a discussion paper on Sudan’s agricultural development as part of the work of that cluster, and contribute to the NAI project `Large scale agro investments in Tanzania – impacts on smallholder land access and food security´.

− One part of the government’s new strategy for agricultural development is to lease land to foreign investors. However, the process is not transparent and many conflicts with local farmers have occurred, says Farida Mahgoub.

The issue is not only a race for lands but also for water resources. In Sudan, water is scarce. The Darfur area is experiencing drought and desertification and even in some neighbourhoods of the capital Khartoum and in other cities and villages along the Nile, water is hard to access because of inadequate infrastructure.

− Water is extremely valuable but it’s for free and included in the land investments, says Farida Mahgoub.  

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