Agriculture in SudanSudan occupies a region that is located in the middle part of the Nile Basin to the south of Egypt. The country is located within the Sudano-Sahelian region in north east Africa. Its total area was reduced from 2,500,000 square km to 1,882,000 square km following the independence of South Sudan in 2011. Sudan is divided into five distinct ecological zones: desert, semi-desert, woodland savannah, flood region and montane vegetation. The most important crop species, especially during times of drought, are the indigenous fruit kursan and the vegetable okra. The country is traversed by the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers, which meet in the capital Khartoum to form the main Nile River, which flows north into the Mediterranean Sea. The two Niles and their tributaries have varying degrees of influence on irrigated agriculture and livestock production systems. In northernmost Sudan, northerly winds prevail for most of the year, and rainfall is rare. To the south of this the seasons are characterized by the north-south oscillation of the boundary between moist southerly air and dry northerly air. In winter the north winds of the tropical air mass blow across Sudan. These winds are relatively cool and dry and usually bring no rain. Sudan is a hot country. The central and eastern areas have the highest mean annual temperatures, typically ranging from the (mid-30s to low 40s C). The highest temperatures normally occur just before the rainy season.
Soils in Sudan can geographically be divided into four categories: sandy in the northern and west-central areas; clay in the central region; and laterite in the south; with alluvial soils as a fourth, less extensive and widely separated category. Alluvial soils have great economic importance. They are found along the main Nile to Lake Nubia; in the delta of the Gash River in the Kassala area; in the Baraka Delta in the area of Tokar near the Red Sea in Ash Sharqi State; and along the lower reaches of the White Nile and the Blue Nile rivers. The variety of agricultural zones in Sudan means that the country is suitable for a wide range of crops. Agriculture depends principally on rainfall and irrigation from major rivers ‒ the Nile and its tributaries. Crops are also cultivated under flood irrigation schemes fed by seasonal rivers, especially in the east and west. For centuries, traditional irrigation has used the shaduf (a traditional device to raise water) and sawagi (a waterwheel to lift water to irrigate smallholdings) to take advantage of the Nile waters and annual flooding.
Sudan has the largest irrigated area in sub-Saharan Africa and ranks second only to Egypt on the continent in terms of irrigated agriculture. Commercial agricultural activities are mostly concentrated in a belt across the centre of the country, known as the central clay plain. The cultivable area ranges from 84 million hectares (ha) to 105 million ha with reasonably fertile soils. Agriculture in Sudan is the principal source of income and livelihood for between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of the population which is estimated at around 43,8 millions in 2020.
Livestock raising dominates the agricultural landscape, comprising 65 percent of the agricultural sector’s contribution to GDP, followed by crop production (33 percent of agricultural GDP); the contribution of fisheries is marginal.The country has one of the largest livestock populations in Africa. Cattle, sheep, goats, and camels provide milk and meat for local consumption and meat and live animals for export. Ruminants also provide ancillary functions including draught and transport, produce manure and act as a store of wealth. Livestock production is mainly based on traditional pastoral systems; 90 per cent of livestock in the country belong to traditional pastoral production systems. Herd size may vary from below 50 head of cattle to several thousand per household. Pastoral herds are mainly semi-nomadic, as practised in western Sudan and along the southern Blue Nile where traditional herd movements occur between wet- and dry-season grazing areas. Livestock are largely grazed, with some stock feeding on crop stubble and by-products as well. Grazing lands include arid rangeland with seasonal pastures during the rains to which herders migrate with their herds, returning to less arid areas during the dry season where feed may still be found. Exporting sheep from Sudan has grown into a valuable business. Sudan also exports live camels, cattle and goats in appreciable numbers. In almost all years, however, sheep represent 85% to 90% of the numbers and value of live animal exports. Livestock are typically sold from herders to aggregators (gallaga). Independent traders, with their own small capital, gallaga buy locally from herders in camps or villages, assessing stock by eye, paying cash in one-to-one deals, buying 10–15 head at a time.
The Sudan has two cropping seasons: the main summer season (May–September), and the mostly irrigated winter season (November March/April). The winter seasons starts with land preparation in November, planting in December and harvest in March/April. In winter, the main cereal crop produced is wheat, followed by sesame, groundnut, sorghum and millet. Gum arabic is the most important forest product of Sudan, which accounts for 80 percent of the world’s supply It is collected from acacia trees in Darfur and Kordofan and used widely in industry for products ranging from mucilage (for postage stamps), to foam stabilizers, to excipient in medicines and dietetic foods.
Inland fisheries dominates in the country and are largely artisan in nature.The inland fisheries are based on the Nile River and its tributaries, contributing over 90% of the estimated production potential of the country. The Sudd swamps in the south and the man-made lakes on the White Nile (Gebel Aulia Reservoir), the Blue Nile (Roseires and Sennar Reservoirs), Atbara River (Khashm El Girba Reservoir) and the Main River Nile (Lake Nubia) represent the major fishing localities with respect to fish resource magnitude and exploitation thrust.Marine fisheries - the territorial rights of Sudan on the Red Sea are based on an Exclusive Economic Zone of 91 600 sq km, including a shelf area of 22 300 sq km. Despite the high biodiversity of aquatic life, exploitation emphasis has been historically placed on the harvesting of wild mollusks and finfish. Both activities are largely of a traditional and subsistence nature. The other highly valued resources are either untapped or only occasionally fished. As for finfish, fishing activities are carried out by the artisan sector using traditional gear, craft and fishing techniques and frequenting near-shore areas. Diving in search of wild mollusks is an ancient occupation for the majority of the coast population. The targeted species are the mother-of-pearl oyster Pinctada margaritifera, Trochus dentatus, Strombus and Lambia spp, which is exported to Europe as raw material for button manufacturing, cosmetics and inlay works.
Crustacean resources have not been quantified. Small-size trawlers, for the most part, carry out fishing activities targeting shrimps in the fishing grounds south (e.g. Delta Toker and Agieg) and north (e.g. Arbat) of Port Sudan. Eight species of shrimp have been recorded here, of which Peneaus semisulcatus, P. latisulcatus and Metapeneaus monocerus form the bulk of the harvest.
Aquaculture - freshwater fish culture is primarily based on the pond culture of the indigenous species Oreochromis niloticus. Other local species such as Lates nilotius, Labio spp and Clarias lazira have been experimented with, but have not as yet been released to farmers. Exotic species have been introduced for experimental culture in combination with Oreochromis niloticus (e.g. common carp), or for use as biological control agents for the eradication of aquatic weeds that infest the irrigation canals of large agricultural structures (grass carp).