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Sudan: War, Poverty, and Poor Rainfall Endanger Sudan’s Agricultural Season

Ed Daein / Washington DC — Farming in Sudan during the current rainy season remains poor due to the war, the scarcity of agricultural and financial means, and the poor distribution of rainfall, Darfur farmers and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) report.

East Darfuri farmer Ibrahim Sharef told Radio Dabanga earlier this week that the already limited rain-fed farming in the state is now carried out “without any assistance or loans from the agricultural bank or any government institution”.

Sharef said that the East Darfur main cultivated crops, broad beans, sorghum, watermelons, and sesame seeds, are now being cultivated in small quantities.

“The dire humanitarian situation in the state is exacerbated by the scarcity of medicines and food,” he added. “The El Firdaws Hospital in Ed Daein [capital of East Darfur] has limited its services because of the lack of medical staff and medical supplies. Moreover, we are now hosting large numbers of people who fled the fighting in Nyala.”

The farmer called on native administration leaders* “in all parts of Sudan to hold an inclusive conference to end the war and resolve its damaging effects”.

Similar reports emerged last month from Nyala, capital of South Darfur. Crop traders reported that only few farmers dared to cultivate their land because of the ongoing violence. They warned that the current food insecurity “will definitely lead to famine in the region”.

‘Below average’

In its report over July, issued three days ago, FEWS NET, an organisation set up by USAID in Washington DC, confirmed the deteriorating agricultural situation in the country last month, when the armed conflict between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) continued unabated.

Apart from the violence that is preventing farmers in Darfur and Kordofan to visit their lands, the shortage of financial means to buy fuel and other supplies needed for cultivation, the early warning network also points to the “above-normal temperatures and poor distribution of rainfall.

“The forecasted near-average performance of rains in August and September is expected to improve conditions, although harvest is expected to remain overall below average,” the report stated.

FEWS NET further said that the ‘staggering displacement rate’ caused by the continued fighting further worsens the situation. “With displaced populations mostly living within host communities, the pressure on available food and income resources is increasing particularly as many household stocks have depleted with the onset of the lean season.”

“Before the outbreak of the armed conflict in mid-April Sudan already faced a high burden of food insecurity given the exceedingly high cost of living amidst the persistence of poor macroeconomic conditions and intercommunal conflict,” the network stated.

In July, the Arab League also warned of the impact of the war in Sudan on the food security in the country and the Arab region.

In the same month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) started its campaign to leverage the current planting season and boost food production in Sudan, by distributing 10,000 tons of seeds to farmers in the country.

* The Native Administration was instituted by British colonial authorities seeking a pragmatic system of governance that allowed for effective control with limited investment and oversight by the state. Rribal leaders were appointed in various native administration functions to execute policies, collect taxes, and mobilise labour on behalf of the central government. According to the Darfur Bar Association (DBA) and civil society activists, the native administration system during the 30-year rule of dictator Omar Al Bashir did not represent the real local community leaders.

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