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Sudanese farmers protest against crop destruction by herders

December 22 - 2020 EL FASHER / EL GEZIRA / DELLING
Darfuri camel herders (sudanreeves.org)
Darfuri camel herders (sudanreeves.org)

Yesterday, angry farmers in the area of Tabit, North Darfur, closed the El Fasher-Nyala road, to protest against the destruction of agricultural land and crops by herders’ camels and livestock grazing.

Farmer activists told Radio Dabanga that farmers from 150 villages had set up their tents in the area of Kedarik, near Tabit, to demand protection during the harvest season as well as the provision of water and medicines. They also called for the opening of a prosecution office in the region and cited the ongoing violations and abuses of the herders.

Earlier this month, farmers in Kutum also closed part of the road to El Fasher in a protest against armed herding groups releasing their livestock to graze on farmland and thereby destroying the crops. 

Disputes between herders and farmers occur regularly in Darfur this time of year. As the rainy season ends in September and the herders need fresh pastures, they let their camels and cattle graze on farmlands that have not yet been harvested. Each year, farmers complain about livestock destroying their crops.

In the past, there used to be clearly marked pasture tracks and traditional tribal procedures for compensation of lost crops, but this has changed during the regime of Omar Al Bashir. The regime supported the ‘Arab herders’ in the region, whilst looking down on ‘African farmers’.

Attacks against farmers take place in both Darfur and South Kordofan. However, South Kordofan also has seen good developments. 

Hafsa El Marin, an agricultural official of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North faction under the leadership of Abdelaziz El Hilu (SPLM-N El Hilu), said that 130,000 acres of land in the Nuba Mountains have been assigned for cultivation this year, and that this has so far benefitted 7,500 families. 

In an interview with Radio Dabanga, she explained that agricultural production can achieve ‘‘self-sufficiency’’ for the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains if food is cultivated and produced in a rationalised manner. She also pointed to the benefits of technological achievements and advancements in the manufacturing processes of ploughs.

Other farmer protests

Farmers from the Alliance of Farmers of El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme denounced the decision to install a tax on farmers’ fertilizer that would amount to 1,450 SDG per acre.

After inspecting the area El Maalig in El Gezira, farmer Karar El Sir said that the decision will not encourage agricultural production. He pointed to the rising costs of preparing and ploughing the land, which amounts now to 1,500 SDG per acre.

Earlier this year, the Alliance of Farmers of El Gezira and El Managil also staged various protests to demand more representation, serious reform, and financial support the reimplement the century-old irrigation scheme. 

The agricultural scheme, between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation projects but former dictator Al Bashir described the Scheme as “a burden on the country’s budget”. In September 2015, the Agriculture Ministry aimed to transfer land ownership to the private sector and foreign investors. Farmers Alliance leader Hasabo Ibrahim warned in June 2016 for the consequences of “these destructive agricultural policies”.

* USD 1 = SDG 55.1375 at the time of posting, according to the daily middle US Dollar rate quoted by the CBoS. Effective foreign exchange rates however can vary widely on Sudan’s parallel market, where the greenback is currently selling for around SDG 250.


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