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Farmers' growing dissent in Sudan’s El Gezira Scheme

September 16 - 2015 WAD MADANI
An aerial photo of the El Gezira Scheme in Sudan, between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, (file photo)
An aerial photo of the El Gezira Scheme in Sudan, between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, (file photo)

There is growing dissent among the farmers of the El Gezira Agricultural Scheme, south of the national capital of Khartoum, because of the replacement of the Farmers Union with work associations. They consider the decision an attempt to break-up the unity of farmers.

In an interview with Radio Dabanga on Tuesday, farmer Zeinelabdin Abdallah Bargawi highlighted the threats facing the current agricultural season because of thirst and low water levels.

He denounced the “false [government] statements that deny the thirst and low water levels”, and called on the Sudanese government “to be credible and admit its mistakes so as to address the problem”.

Bargawi announced the formation of a committee to follow-up the thirst issue with the officials.

El Jak Mohamed Abushama, one of the leaders of the El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association has appealed to the political forces and civil society organisations to stand against the decision to dissolve the Farmers’ Union. He said that the intention of the decision to sell the scheme. This will threaten the lives of eight million people.

Hasabo Ibrahim, member of the Association, told Radio Dabanga that the corn crop is under threat because of low rainfall and poor irrigation. He accused the government of systematic targeting of the agricultural scheme through recent laws.

He said that the dissolving of the Farmers Union was intended to control the scheme and the agricultural sector. He pointed out that that the Union has made a lot of gains and provided services since its establishment in 1953.

He explained that the law aims to give the ownership of the land to the private sector and foreign investors by targeting the small-scale farmers.

He added that the government will purchase the holdings and leave the farmers to an unknown fate.

El Gezira Scheme is a vast region irrigated through gravity by the waters of the Blue Nile. The Scheme is one of the world’s largest irrigation projects. It has remained for nearly eighty years the sole source of hard currency for the country, through the cultivation of cotton.

At a press conference on 30 November 2014, President Omar Al Bashir described El Gezira Scheme as non-feasible and a burden on the country’s budget.


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