Kutum / Saraf Umra — The lack of fuel in Darfur, Kassala, and Kordofan's states has caused large tracts of cultivated land to dry up as irrigation pumps cannot be operated. A shortage of food is looming after a poor agricultural season in these states.
A farmer in Kutum told Radio Dabanga that the scarcity of fuel in Kutum has lasted three weeks. "This led to the drying up of many cultivated crops east and west of the town."
He said that the shortage has led to a situation where farm owners have to spend two days in long lines to obtain a gallon of diesoline at about 60 Sudanese Pound ($3.30). "But now the military intelligence requires traders to register their name, and they can obtain a gallon after three days. The military intelligence prevents people from bringing a gallon of fuel from El Fasher."
Last week, a number of Kutum's vegetable and fruit farmers reported that the lingering thirst damaged large areas of their crops because the irrigation pumps run on fuel. Especially okra, potatoes, tomatoes and onions are damaged. Kutum is one of the few localities that supply the entire North Darfur state with vegetables and fruit.
Army bans sorghum transport
The fuel crisis in Sudan has also halted the sorghum harvest in several agricultural projects in El Gedaref and transportation of the staple food. The situation is similar in Saraf Umra locality where members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) prevented sorghum and millet to be transferred out of the locality. They have imposed a fee of SDG 100 ($5.50) for each sack of sorghum or millet that is moved out without financial documents such as receipts.
Speaking to Radio Dabanga, a farmer in Saraf Umra described the ban on the transport of sorghum and millet as "an unjust policy contradictory to the liberalisation declared by the state. It damages the interests of the farmers because these measures will lead to a reduction in the prices of crops - while the farmer faces rise of all goods and materials."
Sorghum, millet, and wheat are the most important food commodities in Sudan. Sorghum is the staple food for the majority of poor households in central and eastern regions, millet for the majority of households in Darfur and some parts of Kordofan. Wheat is the staple food for the northern Sudanese states.
'Poor farming season in North Darfur and Kassala' - Fews Net
The harvest for these crops usually takes place from November to January. The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fews Net) has confirmed that parts of North Darfur and Kassala have witnessed a poor seasonal performance which has led to substantial crop losses. 'Households are likely to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs as livestock remain in dry season grazing areas and household milk availability is limited,' the organisation reports in its latest Food Security Outlook.
State to distribute food
The minister of finance in North Darfur, Mohamed Yahya Hamid, has acknowledged that there is a fuel gap. His ministry will address the issue so as to face the winter agricultural season, he said this week. The state government announced the arrival of 7,000 sacks of sorghum to be distributed to the 18 localities.
Sudan's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is for 39.6 per cent composed by the sector agriculture, as well as 57.8 per cent by 'services', according to the CIA World Factbook.