Farmers of Sudan's El Gezira Agricultural Scheme demand irrigation
El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme farmers have warned that a lack of irrigation will lead to damages to the winter crops in several sections of the project. Farmers in Tokar in eastern Sudan call for support from the Red Sea government.
Farmer and member of the Emergency Committee of El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme Faroug El Badawi told Radio Dabanga that the crops will need irrigation for another six weeks. He said that stopping irrigation in mid-March would destroy large quantities of the wheat crop.
He explained that much of the agricultural land cannot be cultivated due to a shortage of water. The entire El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme encompasses 150,000 feddans (156,000 acres). Many areas are being irrigated with pumps. Each irrigation operation costs SDG4,000* per feddan. On average, 1,000 kilograms of sorghum are produced per feddan.
Irrigation began late this agricultural season. El Badawi blamed this on the Minister of Irrigation. He called on the Sovereignty Council and the Council of Ministers to intervene urgently and extend irrigation operations to the entire Scheme until mid-April.
El Badawi also said that the farmers did not receive enough urea fertilizer, which will affect productivity.
Siddig Abdelhadi, Chairman of the El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, described the situation as “reassuring” in a statement to Radio Dabanga after a meeting with the Board of Directors on Monday. He noted that “all required mechanisms” for the harvest are available.
Abdelhadi stated that the Board of Directors decided not to set a fixed price for the crops. He argued that the government must buy the entire harvest.
The El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation projects.
In late 2014, President Al Bashir described the Scheme as “a burden on the country’s budget”. In September 2015, the Agriculture Ministry amended the El Gezira Scheme Act, aimed at transferring land ownership to the private sector and foreign investors. That same year the Farmers Union was disbanded by the Al Bashir regime.
The El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Alliance launched a rally in December 2019 to commemorate the founding of Sudan’s Farmers Union in December 1953. The demonstrators also demanded that the extensive irrigation project be revived. Two months later, the Alliance accused remnants of the ousted Al Bashir regime of trying to thwart the winter harvest in the irrigation scheme. The farmers experienced a shortage of water.
In October 2020, El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Alliance organised a protest in Khartoum, demanding that the new El Gezira Scheme governor be replaced.
Farmers in Tokar in eastern Sudan organised a protest in front of the Red Sea state government offices. They called for the dismissal of the director of the Tokar Delta Agricultural Project. The protesting farmers carried banners calling on the state government to act “before what is left of the project collapses”.
The farmers demanded more mechanisation in order to save efforts and time, enlargement of the agricultural area, and a reduction of the cost of irrigation. They also demanded that investors and manufacturing industries will be attracted to the region.
* USD 1 = SDG 378 at the time of posting, according to the daily US Dollar rate quoted by the Central Bank of Sudan.
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