Sudan farmers want El Gezira irrigation scheme revived
The El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Alliance launched a rally on Sunday commemorating the founding of Sudan’s Farmers Union in December 1953. The demonstrators also demand that the extensive irrigation project in their area, that was suspended a few years ago by the Al Bashir regime, be revived.
The ‘White Gold rally’ started on the train from Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, to Khartoum.
The rally was attended by resistance committees and farmers from Wad Madani, El Hasaheisa, El Masid, and Wadsulfab. The demonstrators chanted slogans such as “We will return only when the Agricultural Scheme returns”, and “We resist and do not compromise”.
El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, 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.
Farmers Alliance leader Hasabo Ibrahim warned in June 2016 for the consequences of “these destructive agricultural policies”.
In July last year, Sudan’s security service prevented a press conference in Omdurman organised by the El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Alliance. Mohamed Abushama, leading member of the Alliance, told Radio Dabanga at the time that the farmers wanted to inform the people that the Sudanese government committed deliberate damage to the agricultural scheme with the aim to sell the land.
After the ousting of Al Bashir and his regime this year, the new government began to address the roots of the various crises in the country through peace negotiations in all parts of Sudan.
On December 24, the government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) rebel alliance signed a first peace accord, on the central Sudan track. This agreement includes addressing the basic issues related to development, farmers’ issues, the El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, land rights, and fair distribution of wealth in the region.
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