Irrigation fees dispute threatens key crops in Sudan
About 350,000 acres of crops in Sudan’s crucial El Rahad agricultural area, are reportedly poised to fail for lack of irrigation. Farmers refuse to pay fees they deem 'exorbitant'.
Hussein Abdel Rahman El Shobli, the former President of El Rahad farmers union, told Radio Dabanga that the crops have not been irrigated because of the stoppage of water from the main irrigation canal leading from the Abu Rakham Dam.
El Rahad agricultural projects straddle Sudan’s eastern El Gedaref and El Gezira states, and are an important ‘breadbasket’ for the country. The projects also provide much-needed seasonal employment for workers across Sudan, as well as neighbouring countries such as Ethiopia.
El Shobli expressed concern of failure of the season and damage to corn, cotton, groundnuts, and some 30, 000 acres cultivated with lentils.
He said that the Ministry of Irrigation imposes a fee of SDG130 ($20.40) for irrigation of each acre, which farmers have refused to pay, terming them “levies and fees without services”.
El Sobli reports that employees of the Ministry of Irrigation arrived in 15 Hilux pickups, threatened the farmers, and gave them two options: either to pay the fees or stop harvest.
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