Traditional rainfed agriculture
The traditional rainfed sector covers about 9 million hectares and occupies the largest number of farmers
. The sector is made up of small family units farming from 2 to 50 hectares for both income and subsistence. On the larger units, there may be a modicum of mechanization in the form of land preparation, but most operations are carried out manually. The traditional sector predominates in the west of the country, in Darfur and in much of
Kordofan states, where the main cereal crops are millet and sorghum. Input levels are low and yields are especially vulnerable to unfavorable rainfall. Other important crops in this sector include groundnuts, sesame, hibiscus (karkadé), watermelon and Gum Arabic.
Production of Livestock in the Sudan is conducted primarily as migratory pastoralism. In 2016, the livestock population was estimated to comprise about 30 million cattle, 40 million sheep, 31 million goats and 4.8 million camels. Livestock ownership plays a major role in the rural economy of the Sudan and financial gain is not always its primary objective; numbers of livestock are often considered as being more important than weight gain. With large numbers of livestock converging on pasture which, in a year of poor rainfall, may be very limited, conflict
between herders and settled farmers and amongst different groups of herders is not uncommon.
Exports of sheep, mainly to Saudi Arabia, are reported at 137 000 heads in the first ten months of 2017. In the same period, about 272 000 goats and 233 000 camels were exported, the latter mainly to Egypt. By comparison, the export numbers for cattle were low at 89 000, but they had been increasing. Compared with live animal exports, meat exports in 2017 were relatively modest at 2 132 tons of mutton, 10 076 tons of beef and 962 tons of goat meat. In 2014, the production of chicken meat and fish landings were estimated at 91 000 and 60 000 tons respectively.
The 2017 cumulative main season rainfall between June and August was average tending to above average over most parts of the country, but had an erratic temporal distribution in some areas.` Dry spells occurred` during June and July in some high-producing regions, with significant rainfall in August helping to improve conditions, but also causing severe flooding, water logging of crops and damage to property.
In Kassala State, precipitations started early (in May) but long dry spells in June, July and August severely affected most of the rainfed areas. In Gedaref, the rainy season has been shorter than normal and about 62 percent of the weather stations recorded fewer cumulative rainfall compared to the previous season. In the northern areas of the State, the delay and irregularity of precipitations caused serious problems to crops and created poor conditions for natural pastures. Also in North Darfur, almost every rainfall monitoring station recorded lower total rains this year compared to previous seasons. A slow start of the rains and long dry spells during July forced many farmers to replant and reduced the growing season. Moreover, heavy floods of seasonal rivers uprooted fruit trees, caused erosion of fertile soils and damaged shallow wells.
In Central, East Darfur and White Nile states, despite reduced amounts, the rainfall’s temporal and spatial distribution has been better compared to the previous year. Some localized dry spells did not undermine agricultural production. In South and West Darfur states, excluding some limited areas that experienced dryness and required replanting, rains were very favourable for crops, pastures and drinking water. In North and West Kordofan states, rains started earlier than usual with average to above average total precipitations. Despite some dry spells in July and an early cessation of seasonal rains in September, the situation has been very good.
In South Kordofan and Sennar states, rainfall this year has been favourable for the crops in terms of quantity, distribution and duration. In Blue Nile State, weather conditions have been better than last year, but some floods as well as dry spells in the eastern parts of the State created problems in specific areas. In Gezira and Khartoum states, inadequate quantities and early stoppage of the rains have negatively affected rainfed crops.
In the irrigated schemes, the situation this year has been generally favourable. However, the Tokar and Gash schemes did not receive sufficient irrigation water and consequently the area planted was below the planned level.
In Rahad Scheme, some maintenance work must be carried out and pumps need to be replaced. In Gezira Scheme, as irrigation water is adequately available, the lack of rains in July has been actually beneficial for farmers, allowing them to conduct agricultural operations without interruptions.
Agricultural finance and credit
The provision of short-term agricultural credit through the Agricultural Bank of Sudan (ABS) is a regular operation procedure in both the irrigated and the rainfed sectors, but most particularly in the entrepreneurial semimechanized rainfed sector. Loans for cereal production are usually accessed by entrepreneurs who have strong business connections with the ABS and other banks, while most farmers in the traditional sector are either unable to raise the collateral required to obtain a loan or are not prepared to take one. Farmers with poor repayment histories, those without sufficient collateral and loan defaulters from the previous year are excluded by the banks.
However, micro credit is generally available for small traditional farmers through livelihood support programmes, particularly in Darfur Region. In other states, short-term seasonal loans to eligible farmers are made through the interest-free salam system. Under salam, bank charges are levied in kind, at a value fixed jointly at planting time by the Ministry of Finance, the SRC, the ABS and Farmers’ Associations.
Seeds, fertilizers, herbicides, labour and agricultural machinery are the major inputs required by farmers and their costs have generally increased during the last year. The majority of the farmers use the seeds retained from their previous year’s crop or purchased locally from the market. The purity of the seeds may sometimes be low and the productivity of the traditional varieties is decreasing every year.
Improved seeds are used mostly on the irrigation schemes where yields are more reliable, but also by some farmers in the semi-mechanized rainfed sector, while its adoption in the traditional rainfed sector remains negligible.
Moreover, hybrid sorghum seeds are not always available and its costs are high. In River Nile, East Darfur and South Darfur states, some farmers interviewed by the Mission teams lamented delays in seeds availability that eventually forced them to use the retained ones. In Kassala State, many farmers ran out of seeds as they had to replant several times because of the protracted June-July dry spell.
In New Halfa Scheme, a shortage of wheat seeds has been reported as only 25 percent of the total amount required was available at the time of the Mission.
The cost of fertilizers has generally increased. In Suki Scheme, urea now sells for SDG 360 per 50 kg bag, a 40 percent increase from SDG 255 of last year and Diammonium phosphate, which is used mostly on wheat and cotton, sells for SDG 485 per bag (compared to SDG 320 per bag last year). Empty sacks for sorghum cost about SDG 30-35, the same price as last year, while sacks for cotton doubled their price and cost now SDG 89..
The cost of farm labour has risen in most parts of the country over the last year. In Gedaref State, the increased area under the high labour demanding cotton cultivation, resulted in workforce shortage and higher wages. In Northern and River Nile states, the traditional gold mining sector employs most of the local workers.
In Suki Scheme, the average cost for weeding is SDG 40-50 per person for four working hours and about SDG 500 per feddan. Cutting and collection of sorghum heads and cutting of stacks is about SDG 1 200-1 500 per feddan, while threshing costs SDG 15 per bag. In Gedaref State, the average cost for sorghum harvesting is SDG 50 per sack plus food for the workers.
In Khartoum, labour was available and the cost was stable this year, like in Kassala State where the poor harvest increased workers availability. Also in White Nile, the presence of refugees from South Sudan has assured labour availability at stable costs (but increased demand on sorghum).
An increased cost of production has been reported particularly in White Nile and South Kordofan states. In West Kordofan State, Mission-interviewed farmers claimed a 30 percent rise compared to last year mainly because of higher costs of inputs and labour.
With about a 65 percent increase in irrigation water costs and scheme management fees compared to last year, the cost of production of cotton in Rahad and New Halfa stands this year at around SDG 5 400 per feddan with a gross return of about SDG 12 000.
Low yields and poor pasture conditions in rainfed areas, caused by unfavourable precipitations, have led some farmers to sell their standing crops for grazing animals. In Kassala State, the return from groundnut crops residues this season was around SDG 1 000 per feddan.
In Red Sea, Gedaref, Kassala and South Darfur states, the Mission teams reported the lack and malfunctioning of agricultural machinery for various agricultural practices. This year, MoAF provided a total of about 4 900 tonnes of seeds (Table 6) and allocated a number of farm machinery to the different states (Table 7). Various NGOs, including FAO (Table 8), also distributed agricultural inputs.
Crop pests and diseases
In the 2017/18 cropping season, crop health has been generally good, with no significant damage over the vast majority of the areas of the country. This is mainly due to the efforts of the Central Crop Protection Administration and the strong connection with the State ministries of Agriculture. All controlling measures and products were available in due time and actions have been taken at early stages. However, in some states, local authorities were concerned about indiscriminate uses of chemical pesticides. Table 9 shows the areas affected by pests and the level of control achieved.
Successful treatments have been used during the summer to control the Desert Locusts at breeding stage and the Sorghum Midge (Contarinia sorghicola) during the hibernation period to prevent migrations and major problems to crops. At the same time, birds’ attacks have been continuously monitored and successfully contained thanks to aerial spraying all over the country. Some damage to crops was caused by grasshoppers in Kassala State at the beginning of the summer season and by trips in Rahad Scheme where 50 percent of the cotton area was affected.
Fall Armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda), probably migrating from Ethiopia and Eritrea, has been detected in Sennar, Gedaref and Kassala states causing moderate damage, especially in Blue Nile State where it completely destroyed about 500 hectares of maize and affected 100 000 hectares of sorghum, about 4 percent of the total area. The attack did not have serious consequences on sorghum and this possible resistance could represent a case study to improve the knowledge on its biology. The situation needs to be further investigated and closely monitored in preparation of the next season to prevent future severe damages.
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