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Thousands of wheat fields dry up in Sudan agricultural scheme

December 12 - 2017 EL GEZIRA
Farmers of El Gezira Agricultural Scheme face irrigation problems (RD file photo)
Farmers of El Gezira Agricultural Scheme face irrigation problems (RD file photo)

A lack of irrigation water has caused at least 60,000 acres of wheat fields in El Gezira Agricultural Scheme to dry up.

Member of Parliament Adlan Mahmoud reported the lack of irrigation water in El Gezira scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, which used to be one of the world’s largest irrigation projects.

“More than 60,000 acres of wheat areas in El Gezira Scheme are exposed to thirst because of a lack of irrigation water,” said Mahmoud. Especially the northern sections of the scheme, Elmatouri, Jamusi and El Shawal, are in dire need of irrigation.

Ahmed El Tayeb, member of the Farmers' Association, said that more than 30 percent of the area planted with wheat in El Mansi section has dried up, as a result of the accumulation of large quantities of silt. Canals have not been disinfected in a timely manner because of a lack of fuel to operate the dredges.

“The problem is difficult to solve, especially with the recent conclusion of the winter farming, but some of the farmers are still engaged in winter farming now.”

El Tayeb added that farmers face great losses and imprisonment if they do not pay the loans for seeds and pesticides back to the Agricultural Bank in Sudan. “This failure is bound to happen because of the government's deliberate policies to displace the Sudanese farmers and hand over their land to private companies and investors,” he claimed.

Recently the scheme's deputy director has acknowledged that the water in El Gezira is insufficient, while the director of irrigation has accused farmers of misuse of the irrigation system, that has lead to the current water scarcity.

Last December, hundreds of acres also dried up in the agricultural scheme, as the irrigation channels were depleted of water for consecutive weeks.

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