Sudan: French Agritech Specialists to Help Mechanise Sudan's El Gezira Scheme

Khartoum / El Gezira / El Managil — The management committee of Sudan's El Gezira Scheme and French company FGM International that specialises in developing, managing, and implementing a broad variety of modern farming and agribusiness projects worldwide, signed a Memorandum of Understanding today at El Gezira scheme office in Khartoum, to introduce French mechanised farming technology to the scheme for 18 months.

According to the agreement 5,000 and 16,000 acres will be targeted in El Gezira scheme and El Managil respectively. The signing of the memorandum is the result of studies conducted by a French delegation that visited the country a few months ago, the Governor of Gezira Scheme, Omer Marzuq, said via the official Sudan News Agency (SUNA).

Marzuq signed the memorandum on behalf of Sudan signed for Sudan, while the Ambassador to Sudan, Emmanuelle Blatmann, signed on behalf of France.

Marzuq expressed his thank to France for its efforts in supporting El Gezira Scheme. The memorandum is designed to introduce the French technology for developing the agriculture in the scheme for a period of 18 months during which he said mechanised farming systems will be introduced.

French Ambassador Blatmann welcomed the signing of the memorandum saying it represents the depth of the relationship that exists between the two countries, particularly after the recent change that took place in Sudan. The French diplomat promised that her country would continue cooperation with Sudan in various fields through supporting the transitional government.

In May, France hosted the Paris Conference, which was attended by a large number of representatives of countries, international institutions, and businesses, organised to support the democratic transition in Sudan and encourage international investments and partnerships.

It aimed to encourage public and private international investments in Sudan after its removal from the USA list of state sponsors of terrorism (SST) and to establish investment partnerships with the international community, and has already resulted in debt relief for Sudan, following the Decision Point under the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative as announced in June by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

El Gezira

El Gezira Agricultural Scheme was begun by the British while the area was governed as part of Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (1899- 1956). The agricultural scheme, between the Blue and White Niles south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world's largest irrigation projects. Water from the Blue Nile was distributed through canals and ditches to tenant farms lying between the Blue and White Nile rivers.

Former president Al Bashir described the Scheme in late 2014, 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".

The El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Alliance launched a rally in Khartoum in end December last year, in commemoration of the founding of Sudan's Farmers Union in December 1953.The demonstrators also demanded the El Gezira Agricultural Scheme to be revived.

Food insecurity in Sudan

As reported by Radio Dabanga in June, the Ministry of Agriculture of Sudan, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), have called for greater investment in Sudan's agriculture and humanitarian assistance, as a new food security assessment shows that a record number of Sudanese will face acute food insecurity in the coming lean season.

The World Food Programme cites the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) results for Sudan, that 9.8 million people are projected to be acutely food insecure (IPC Phase 3 and above) across the country throughout the lean season from June through September.

More than 20 per cent of Sudan's population is projected to be facing acute food insecurity starting this month, the highest figure reported in the history of the IPC in Sudan, the statement says.

Food assistance

SUNA reports that the second shipment of American wheat assistance amounting to 48,000 tons arrived at Port Sudan harbor today, where it was received by Wali (governor) of Red Sea State Engineer Abdalla Shangarai.

Addressing the occasion, the Governor voiced thanks and appreciation to the American government and people for supporting the Sudan and enhancing the efforts of democratic transformation in the country following the glorious December Revolution.

Director General of the Seaports Authority Captain Onour Mohamed Adam also addressed the occasion, commending the American support to Sudan and its transitional government.

Representative of the Agricultural Bank of Sudan and the Strategic Reserve Administration Emad-Eddin Ali Hussein, on his part, announced that the third consignment of the American wheat aid would arrive at Port Sudan harbor on the eleventh of next August.

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