Saturday, November 13, 2010

Egypt to grow crops in Sudan

By Ahmed Kamel-The Egyptian Gazette Online
Monday, September 6, 2010

CAIRO- Egypt has signed an agreement with Sudan to grow wheat, maize and sugar beets on one million feddans (acres) in the latter.

Companies from Egypt’s public and private sectors are expected to benefit from the agreement, which is part of the North African country’s efforts to secure its growing needs of food crops.

“The legal framework of the deal will be outlined by October when Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif will lead Egypt’s delegation in the Egyptian-Sudanese higher committee,” Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram semi-official newspaper Sunday.

Sudan has a varied climate, with heavy rainfall in some areas and water from the Nile which means it can grow a range of crops from wheat and animal feed to citruses and oilseeds.

“Sudan has the priority for any Egyptian investments in agriculture,” said Saad Nassar, an adviser to the Minister of Agriculture.

“According to the agreement, Egypt will provide Sudan with seeds, fertilisers, pesticides and machines to the Gezira Rehabilitation Project,” Nassar added.

Sudan’s Gezira Rehabilitation Project is planned to raise crop yields of two million feddans through the rehabilitation of the Gezira irrigated area and its supporting services.

Maize, wheat and sugar beets will be allocated to Egypt’s Poultry Association, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) and the Holding Company for Food Industries,” Nassar added.

The project will improve the region’s irrigation, drainage, and pumping systems; rehabilitate the infrastructure including roads, communication network, railway, staff housing and ginneries; provide critical inputs such as farm machinery; improve farmer training, research, and extension; and support improved health through schistosomiasis control and sanitary water systems.

Egypt, the world’s top wheat importer, consumes around 14 million tonnes of wheat annually and relies on foreign supplies for about half of its requirement.

In April, a unit of Egyptian private equity firm Citadel Capital signed a 30- year lease agreement for land south of Khartoum to build Sudan’s first largescale commercial rice farm.

Gulf and other Arab countries have been investing in a range of farming projects in Sudan, Africa’s biggest country by area and long viewed as having huge agricultural potential.

The land leased by El-Nahda for Integrated Solutions, a portfolio company of Wafra, Citadel’s platform company in the Sudanese agricultural industry, spans 60,000 feddans.

Earlier this year, Egypt, the most populous Arab country of 80 million people, said it was evaluating three options for growing wheat in Uganda in a bid to safeguard its supply of the staple.

Egypt added it wanted to set up farms in Nile Basin countries in order to protect its water supply and boost supply of staple crops.

Egypt runs three farms in Africa now, one in Zambia to grow corn, one in Niger mostly for rice, and a third in Tanzania for vegetables. The Uganda farm to grow wheat is the latest of a total of 14 planned farms to supply Egypt.