|Development Projects in the Sudan: An Analysis of their Reports with Implications for Research and Training in Arid Land Management (UNU, 1979, 58 pages)|
|3. Project analysis|
The NMAPC is a subsidiary corporation of the Public Corporation for Agricultural Production (PCAP). Its origins lie in the Nuba Mountains Cotton Corporation (1924), which was solely concerned with the marketing and ginning of cotton and distribution of seed. The corporation was reconstituted in 1967 as the NMAPC to promote a "modernization" programme which involved providing mechanization to groups of farmers. Initially, it was thought that this programme would stimulate cotton production as all the sites chosen for the scheme (varying annually between 20 and 35) were in the vicinity of the ginneries.
Peak cotton production was reached in 1954/55 when over 200,000 feddans were planted. producing 900,000 kantars of seed cotton. Since that time, output has fluctuated widely but with a general downward trend. with 117.000 feddans planted in the 1975/76 season. Decreasing yields and lower prices seem to be the major causes for the decline. Although the emphasis is still on cotton. planting of aura has increased in importance. The area planted each year has fluctuated quite widely up to 36,000
Major sources: (1) IBRD, South Kordafan Agriculture Development Report, Khartoum.1976. (2) Agrar- und Hydrotechnik Gmb H. German Agency for Technical Cooperation, Nuba Mountains Region-Development Potential Survey. Essen,1977 feddans, reaching a low point in 1974/75, when only 3,000 feddans were sown. The following season, with some new tractors, around 38,000 feddans were planted, and in the current season (1976/77) the area planted exceeded 47,000 feddans.
Total Nuba Mountains cropped area in 1975 was 744,500 feddans (see Table 1 6), of which only 38,000 feddans (5 per cent) came under the modernization schemes. Average crop yields in the area are around 3.5 kantars/feddan for cotton 6 kantars for aura, and 3 kantars for sesame. No yield data relating specifically to the modernization schemes are available, but yields of 6-7 kantars for cotton and 10 kantars for aura are quoted locally.
TABLE 16. Nuba Mountains: Total Crooped Areas. 1975
|Maize||-||1 8 530|
Source: IBRD. South Kordofan Agriculture Development Report, p. 11
Under the modernization scheme, a tractor hire service is provided to groups of farmers, informally organized, or through the local Farmers Union, which is extremely active in the area. The techniques used are similar to those of MFC, with one or two cultivation by a tractor with a wide-level disc, mechanized planting of aura, but hand or broadcast sowing of cotton. All initial clearing, weeding, and harvesting is performed by hand by the farmers themselves and with seasonal Dinka and Nuer labourers. Sprayers are hired out by Plant Protection for spraying the cotton on the mechanized schemes. Holdings range from 1 2 to 26 feddans and are grouped in blocks of at least 500 feddans, but many farmers continue to cultivate areas outside the scheme.
Current charges for the services provided are £S 0.75 per feddan for one discing or £S 1.25 per feddan for two, and £S 0.35 per feddan for spraying cotton, with two or three sprayings recommended per season. The cotton crop provides the guarantee of repayment since NMAPC purchases all cotton for ginning and subtracts charges before payment. The corporation operates a joint account for all cotton growers. In this, all variable costs associated with the transport, storage, and ginning of cotton are subtracted from the total revenue from the sale of lint and seed to the Cotton Corporation and the net proceeds are then divided between the growers (around 78-80 per cent), the NMAPC (around 1 5 per cent), a reserve fund (2 per cent). social services (1 per cent), and local government (3 per cent). The expenses in the joint account, however, do not include the fixed costs of the corporation and other permanent staff or the associated variable costs of administration.
There are two main types of farm holdings in the project area. One type has either all or a part of its fields in a mechanized farming scheme of the Nuba Mountains Corporation, while on the other type crops are cultivated in the traditional way. However, the area under mechanized cultivation is still of minor importance, as only 16 per cent of the total cultivated area is cropped in this way.
The crop production in the 1976/77 season at NMAPC schemes amounted to around 6,000 tons of cotton (yield per ha, 466 kg), 10.000 tons of sorghum (yield per ha, 832 kg), 1,400 tons of sesame (yield per ha, 369 kg), and 1 32 tons of dukhn (pearl millet; yield per ha, 840 kg). The yields are above the average of the total area, as given above. The cotton production is sold entirely to the Nuba Mountains Corporation. whereas only around 15 per cent of the sorghum production is sold to merchants. The remaining 85 per cent is consumed by the individual farm families. Thirtyone per cent of the sesame production is sold and 69 per cent is consumed at home.
The total agricultural and non-agricultural income per farm holding is in the range of £S 300 to £S 360 per year. The agricultural income results from crop production and animal production, such as the increase and/or sale of cattle, sheep, and goats, and the sale of skins and milk. The non-agricultural income results from additional jobs which some farmers have, such as the production and sale of local beer (Marisa and Asseliya), charcoal production, weaving, transportation work, and basket making. Compared with the average annual income of £S 1 55 per household in the province of Southern Kordofan, farmers in the project area are quite well off. Farmers with fields in one of the mechanized farming schemes are even better off. The income per hectare on mechanized farming schemes is £S 46 if cotton is grown. and around £S 20 if sorghum is grown. The corresponding figures in the traditional sector are £S 32 for cotton and around £S 26 for sorghum. Farm sizes vary considerably. The average size of a holding is 4.85 ha among the Nuba, 6.11 ha among the Hawazma, and 3.66 ha among the other tribes.
The area of land cultivated at one farm holding is determined by the following factors: -labour availability at the time of clearing/planting/ weeding, -availability of seed, -the rains prior to planting, -weeds from the previous year's crops, and extent of burning old grass or crop aftermath.
Until now there has been no shortage of land and farmers have not established usufructuary priorities over more than a small portion of the usable land. The land tenure pattern shows such traditional land ownership or usufruct accounts for nearly all the farms in the project area. During the Agricultural Sample Survey 1977, only two cases were recorded where farmers stated that the land they cultivated did not belong to them but to a friend or neighbour. However, no payment had to be made and the period of renting was not fixed.
The average family size in the project area was found to be a little more than eight persons. thus giving 4.05 Labour Equivalents (L.E.) per farm holding. Full working time amounts to 240 days per year because of numerous religious and political holidays and thus the average farm holding has around 972 man-days at its disposal.
There are two distinct peak periods for labour, i.e., May and June (land preparation). and August to October (weeding). There is a slack period from December to February and a marked "off season" in March and April. Over the year as a whole, the average farm holding has around 50 per cent of the family members working on the farm. Hired labourers are quite common on farms. Fifty-five per cent of all farmers use them seasonally and 3 per cent use them permanently.
Transport from the field to the farmer's house, or in the case of cotton, to the next collection point, is normally effected by camels or donkeys. Lorries are also sometimes used.
Crop rotation is widely practiced by the farmer. The Nuba Mountains Corporation prescribes the following crop rotation: cotton-sorghum-beans, groundouts, or fallow.
Cotton is exclusively used as a cash crop and marketed through the Nuba Mountains Corporation. Seed is supplied by the corporation free of charge to everybody. Dressing chemicals (Agrosan and Heptachlor) are also offered to the farmers. In the mechanized sector all the farmers apply dressing chemicals; in the traditional sector only 26 per cent do.
The seed rate is 10 kg/ha. Sowing starts from mid July onwards. In general. two to three weedings are carried out by hand. The first weeding starts around three weeks after germination, the second weeding is in September. and if a third weeding is carried out. it is done in October. No serious pests or diseases were recorded during the 1976/77 season. Harvesting starts in December and continues up to March. Cotton is picked two or three times, and the harvest is usually transported by camel to the next collection point of the Nuba Mountains Corporation, where the farmer also receives his payment.
Sorghum (aura) is the staple crop of the population in the project area. Farmers usually grow more than they use for their own consumption and the surplus is sold to merchants. A considerable part of the harvest is used for making alcoholic beverages.
The varieties grown in the traditional sector are characterized by a long stem and are late-maturing. An early-maturing variety is grown around the houses and is used for food if the harvest of the previous year is finished and the new harvest has not yet started. Recently, improved varieties. which are medium-maturing and characterized by a short stem, have been introduced in the farming schemes of the Nuba Mountains Corporation.
Soil preparation for sorghum growing starts from mid-April and is the same as for cotton. Planting starts in July. The seed is generally taken from the previous year's harvest. The seeding rate is 25 kg/ha in the traditional sector and 8 kg/ha in the mechanized sector, where sowing is done mechanically. Weeding is carried out by hand. Two to three weedings are carried out.
A typical weed occuring in sorghum is witchweed (Striga hermontheca), which can cause heavy losses in yield. Farmers combat this weed through the crop rotation they practice. Harvesting starts in mid October and is completed in late December. The average sorghum yield is around 500 kg/ha in the traditional sector and 900 kg/ha in the mechanized sector.
As previously mentioned. cotton is marketed exclusively through the Nuba Mountains Corporation. All other crops are marketed by the farmer himself. Price fluctuations are considerable, but this may be partly due to the fact that in some cases, merchants buy directly from the individual farm holding, giving a lower price to cover their transport costs, while in in other cases the farmer brings his produce to the merchant and thus receives a slightly higher price.
The following standard prices paid by the NMAPC to the producer were recorded:
|Cotton||£S 3.25||for a bag of 45 kg|
|Sorghum||£S 3.30||for a bag of 95 kg|
|Sesame||£S 7.70||for a bag of 75 kg|
|Beans||£S 5.30||for a bag of 75 kg|
|Groundnuts||£S 2.80||for a bag of 45 kg|
Despite the emphasis on crop production, livestock cannot be completely neglected in the project area. Cattle influence the whole social life of the Hawasma and the Nuba. Climatic and ecological conditions force these people to move their animals through the project area from their home grounds to drier parts of the savanna. The home areas, as well as grazing grounds in the north, migration routes, and watering places are clearly defined as belonging to certain tribes.
The seasonal supply of fodder, with adequate nutritional value during certain periods only, stimulates a seasonal livestock breeding cycle and results in the range having a low carrying capacity. Harvested crop fields are of relatively little importance for livestock production as this area is fairly limited and the cotton fields. for example. are of little value for grazing purposes. It would certainly be advisable for the Nuba Mountains Agricultural Production
Corporation to concentrate not only on crop production expansion but also on the development of a management system which shows a higher degree of integration of livestock into the total productive efforts. The following description of the proposals of the new General Manager lacks such an indication.
In response to difficulties and reduced progress, a new General Manager was appointed, who has drawn up a sixyear plan proposal for the NMAPC. The proposals were finalized after consultation with personnel of the Middle East Development Division, Overseas Development Ministry, and therefore they take into account possible outside support; they were also modified slightly by the PCAP for submission to the Ministry of Planning.
The main components of the programme over the six-year period are:
a) establishment of a planning and supervision unit;
b) provision of 360 tractors and wide-level discs (60 per year) and other support vehicles and equipment;
c) strengthening Kadugli workshop and establishment of three satellite workshops and mobile service units;
d) supply of competent technical personnel, provided with transport and housing;
e) ensuring regular supply of spare parts and fuel;
f) provision of domestic water supply at sites;
g) construction of raised access roads.
The target area of 480,000 feddans in 1981/82 was raised from the original proposal of 300,000 feddans, allowing just over 800 feddans per tractor unit.
The programme outlined intends to provide tractor services to groups of 40-50 farmers, each with 15 feddans of land, clearly demarcated by grassed bunds. They will cultivate on a three-course rotation of cotton, aura, and a legume (probably lubia or groundnuts). The inclusion of cotton as the main cash crop in the rotation reflects the historical interest of the NMAPC in the crop. for at current prices and yields and with the main inputs heavily subsidized (especially spraying), its economic viability is questionable. The utilization of the legume in the rotation (other than groundnuts) for livestock production has not been investigated.
The existing NMAPC sites will be used as the nuclei for the expansion programme. Where required, domestic water supplies will be provided and access roads constructed, primarily with the object of enabling supervision and maintenance to be carried out during the rains. At these sites, services will also be provided. including a school, dressing station, and a police post. Although no specific proposals have been made, it has been suggested that the NMAPC also become involved in the marketing of crops-in addition to cotton-possibly through the utilization of a proposed Provincial Transport Company, similar to that established in Northern Darfur.
From the outset of the scheme, progress was erratic for a number of reasons. The original programme to acquire 60 new tractors per year could not be met, and as a result of lack of workshop facilities. spare parts, and fuel shortages, the areas to be modernized fell drastically. This situation was compounded by the lack of technical personnel, adequate housing, and transport, which meant that the supervision of the scheme was impossible. In specific locations, problems of domestic water provision (there are few natural perennial water sources on the clays), soil exhaustion resulting from monocropped cotton, and difficulties with farmers who owned and migrated with livestock delayed progress.
The objective to "modernize" agricultural production in the area has certainly been reached, but at the expense of the State through heavy subsidies. While the economic viability of most operations for the country as a whole is still questionable, there is no doubt that personal incomes of the participants have been raised above previous levels in the area. In addition, central services (including better access roads) have come to the region earlier than could be expected without this scheme.