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Palm fires 'deliberate', Northern Sudanese say

October 21 - 2016 DONGOLA
Palm trees growing on the Ashu land near the Nile, Northern Sudan. (David Haberlah/GFDL)
Palm trees growing on the Ashu land near the Nile, Northern Sudan. (David Haberlah/GFDL)

The many fires in agricultural fields in Sudan's Northern State and the insufficient fire-fighting practices have led to the distrust of authorities among palm tree owners.

People in Northern state are discontent about the number of burnt palm trees at Mahas and Sikot areas and parts of Dongola. Speaking to Radio Dabanga, Adham Nasir said that in most cases, the causes of the fires are unknown, but suspects arson.

He said that cleaning activities are causing a limited number of the fires. Criticising the government, Nasr said: “The fire-extinguishers do not intervene at the right time.” He claimed that the repeated fires are connected to the government's plans to build a hydro dam in the area.

“The government is trying to eliminate the palm trees so as to ensure a low compensation for the residents, in the event that they accept the construction of the hydro dams.” The people in Northern state and Dongola continue to reject the building of the Dal dam, he added, for the feared damaging effects to the environment and social life.

In August this year, farmers could do nothing but watch as more than 1,000 fruit-laden date palms were devoured by fire at Artamoga in El Debba locality in the Northern State. In July, large tracts of orchards burned to the ground after a huge fire broke out on Dafi island, between Dongola and Wadi Halfa. “The government did not lift a finger to intervene,” a source told this station at the time.

The government agreed to construct the Kajbar, Dal, and El Shireik dams at cataracts of the Nile in northern Sudan after passing a framework agreement with Saudi Arabia. The plans, to be completed with Saudi Arabian funding, sparked protests by the Nubian people.

Agriculture season

Meanwhile the Deputy-Governor of the Northern State, Mohamed Abdelrahman Diab is concerned that this year's agricultural season might fail. He said that the ruling centre has lifted subsidies on the diesoline which were specified for agriculture. “This is threatening the success of the agricultural season.”

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