Sudan's farmers warn of failing harvests amid hunger

STORY: It should be a busy planting season on the plains of Sudan’s Gezira Scheme.

But farmers here are standing idle - in a country stalked by rising hunger.

They say they don't have the money to fund any new crops.

Some who spoke to Reuters say the government failed to buy their wheat under promised terms.

"The (summer) season is threatened with collapse. Fifty percent, seventy percent of us might not plant. And that puts the food supply in question. Farmers are in a difficult position, people are in a difficult position. The situation has become very difficult.”

Nazar Abdallah’s wheat should have been sold months ago but it’s still sitting in storage.

He took out loans assuming the government would buy it, but now he’s worried that if his crop spoils, he won’t be able to pay it back.

“As you can see, the storage facility is in dire shape. If it rains, I'll be sent straight to jail, no question.”

The finance ministry did not comment directly on the wheat purchases, but in a statement said it had committed to buying $300 million worth of wheat and sorghum, adding that it was trying to get money from the central bank.

The cost of farmer’s fuel rose more than 6,500 percent in 2021 compared to the year before, the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization said.

It added that erratic rain, pests, conflict and irrigation issues knocked out more than a third of this year’s production of wheat, sorghum and millet.

Here’s the FAO's Babagana Ahmadu.

“The cost of production, the cost of seeds, to find quality seeds is very expensive, the soil here is also very poor in terms of yield per hectare, the quality of the soil is such that it does not encourage high yield per hectare of production because of continuous use.”

Making the situation worse is the rise in fuel prices driven by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Sudan's military leadership has said it is addressing the issue but farmers criticised a recent purchasing announcement as having prohibitive conditions.

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