SUDAN: BREAD BASKET OF THE WORLD
Reference is made to Sudan as the largest country in Africa with a size larger than nine West European countries combined. The River Nile, the longest in the world, traverses the Sudan from South to the North constituting with other seasonal rivers, valleys, rainfall and the extensive groundwater inputs immense water resources that qualify the country to be, no doubt, the Bread Basket of Africa, the Middle-East and beyond.
Sudan enjoys a wide spectrum of climatic conditions suitable for the production of a wide variety of crops. Total land suitable for agriculture is 84 million hectares of which only 14.7 million hectares arc utilized currently, leaving a high potential for future expansion. Livestock population is over 116 million heads of cattle, sheep, goats and camels, the largest animal resources in Africa. With the availability of land, water and finance, these resources can be effectively developed and utilized. Sudan has a strong base of trained manpower in the different thrusts of agricultural production, natural resources management, animal sciences, policy planning and agricultural services fields.
This is strongly supported by over 40 universities, training institutes and research centres all over the country. Sudan can therefore contribute effectively towards solving the food problems in the world, owing to its large wealth in agriculture. Furthermore, Sudan has a good experience in both applied and adaptive agricultural and water resources research focused on food crops. It has also enough experience in dealing with different farming systems of agricultural production including large irrigated schemes like the Gezira Scheme, which rates first in the world, in addition to large scale commercial rain-fed mechanized schemes, agro-industries, small scale raid-fed traditional activities and large scale livestock production systems.
Sudan is self-sufficient in sorghum, millet, sugar, oil, oil seeds, fruits, vegetables, pulses and red meat. It achieved self-sufficiency in wheat in 1991-92. Fruits and vegetables are grown in almost all parts of Sudan. In the first National Salvation Programme 1992-95, Sudan achieved a substantially high annual GDP growth rate of 9 percent on average. This was mostly attributed to successful performance of the agricultural sector. In the last season of the first program, the growth rate of the agricultural sector was 23 percent.
Sudan has a high comparable advantage in producing oilseeds. Sudan is prominent in production of sesame for high quality oil and confectionery processing in importing countries. Production of aflatoxin-free groundnut oil for exports is ensured and new oilseed crops were introduced on a wide scale including different varieties of sunflower and guar. Expansion is underway in oil palm,
Sugar industry is a well known activity in Sudan. Kenana Sugar Factory, one of the largest in the world, has an annual capacity of 365,000 metric tons of first grade sugar. Sudan has 5 large scale sugar refining factories with a total capacity of 670 thousand metric tons of refined sugar. There is a high potential for expanding the sugar industry in the Sudan. The proposed White Nile Sugar Factory is a case in point to which investors are invited.
Sudan is also the biggest manufacturer of Gum Arabic in the world, producing 80 percent of the world's supply. Prized for its outstanding and highly uniform characteristics such as excellent solubility, pale colour and superb emulsifying and firm forming properties, Gum Arabic has a wide variety of uses, but most important is its role in the food industry. It is the recognised, preferred, natural ingredient in the production of high quality products and is used to emulsify flavour oils of fats in confections, to retard crystallization in high sucrose confections, as a clarifying agent in the production of beverages and, to ensure flavour-protection, desirable flavour release, long shelf life and high dispensability in dry package products. Gum Arabic has thus a real appeal for producers of beverages, diet foods, encapsulated flavours and pharmaceuticals.
Agriculture is the dominant sector in the Sudanese economy. In addition to generating directly about two-fifth of the GDP, agriculture also drives activity in the services sector such as transportation, agro-industries and commerce that account for a large part of the rest of the economy. More than 50 percent of the labour force is employed in agriculture and related activities, and the performance of agriculture is the main determinant of year-to-year changes in the levels of food security of the population.
Prior to oil exploration, agriculture was the source of virtually all Sudan's exports, and therefore the key determinant of balance of payments development.
In recent years, agriculture has begun to live-up more to its potential, in response to stabilization and structural reform measures. Agricultural GDP has increased at a rate of about 5 percent between 1993-1994 and 199S, and has pulled the economy along at about that rate. The growth has been export-led, with export volume growing at well over 7 percent per year.
Investment Potentialities and Strategies in the Agricultural Sector in the Sudan:
The Sudan National Strategy has numerous objectives in the agricultural sector as its plans:
1. To increase the irrigated agricultural plot by three fold.
2. To increase the rain-irrigated areas by ten fold.
3. To increase productivity of cereals and other food crops by six fold at least.
4. To increase productivity of oil seeds by six fold.
5. To diversify and increase other crops by two fold including medicinal and aromatic plants.
6. To increase the qualified agricultural manpower by five fold and encourage the agrarian scientific research by facilitating the institutes and universities that sponsor it.
There are some outstanding investment opportunities in the irrigated vegetal sector as follows:
a. There is potential for establishing agricultural projects on the fertile banks of the White and Blue Niles. Because of the high fertility of alluvial soil, various crops could be grown ranging from cotton, groundnut, wheat, and sugarcane to vegetables, fruit and legumes.
b. Investment in water supply and irrigation services such as establishment of sub-terrain water-well drilling companies as well as other surface water reservoirs.
c. Provision of agricultural and field services such as supply of improved seeds, assistance in pest combat and field mechanization.
d. Establishment of agricultural projects in the Northern State, Northern Kordofan and Dar Fur states, which can be irrigated by pumping the rich underground water reservoirs. Such projects shall boost wheat and animal products in the country.
e. Introduction of animal farming in rotational agriculture.
f. Investment in the farming aids industries relevant to this sector such as; manufacture of water-well casing, conducting services pertaining to the water-well drilling industry e.g. manufacture of drill pipes, tubing, underground water-pumps and supply of the necessary accessories, spare parts and equipment, manufacture of hand pumps and provision of maintenance for all the above-mentioned wares.
g. Investment in the field of year-round orchard products. The wide variety of climatic zones in Sudan makes the country unique and enables it to produce fruit and vegetables for export to European markets. Some shipments of grapefruit, mango, lemon, onion, aubergine and green pepper have already established a positive reputation there. Among the areas potentially suitable for both vertical and horizontal expansion in the field of orchard products are Central and Eastern Sudan in addition to some other areas.
In the rain-irrigated areas, the investment potentialities can be in the following forms:
1. To expand the present projects both vertically and horizontally through intensive rehabilitation, modernization and a proper re-arrangement of plans, by introducing some farm animals, provision of water supply facilities, and utilizing the harvest left-overs and remnants as fodder for farm animals.
2. To invest in the mechanized agricultural services such as provision of tractors, equipment, and harvesters, building service, workshops for maintenance purposes.
3. To expand horizontally by establishing new cash crop projects like oil seeds, cotton and sorghum.
4. To invest in plantation and crop protection against diseases and insects by incorporating companies supplying improved seeds and conducting campaigns to combat insects and other forms of farm blight.
5. To invest in the fields of crop warehousing and transport.
The Forests' Sector
More than 22 percent of the total area of Sudan is covered with forests including products such as mahogany, teak, acacia, ebony and various other kinds.
Gum Arabic is an important forest product in Sudan along with wood products that include timber, plywood, and lumber, railroad ties, firewood and charcoal. Firm legislation exists against deforestation.
The Comprehensive National Strategy has emphasized the importance of maintaining the multifaceted ecological balance in Sudan, Soil conservation and protection against erosion and desertification as well as the development and promotion of forests as an important national wealth form part of that strategy.