|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 project was designed to create 140 farms through credit for bush clearance and land development, for construction of roads and water supplies, and for tractor and equipment purchases, machinery repair, and combine harvesting. The farms were to be in the private ownership of persons capable of bearing a large risk from their own resources if favourable weather conditions did not materialize to ensure sufficient yields to cover the cost of production. Originally, the project had been designed for the production of cotton to supply a nearby textile mill, but cotton production ceased in 1971/72 and it became an accepted objective to expand, instead, the production of sesame and sorghum (aura) to meet the domestic demand for food grains.
The institution to implement the project became effective in 1969 when the Mechanized Farming Corporation (MFC) was established to provide the necessary material and technical services.
3.1.1 Production Problems
This project was presented the first time in 1963 to the World Bank for a loan for land clearance and mechanized crop production in the Abu Irwa area south-east of Gedaref, covering 110,000 feddans (46,000 ha) of which 30 per cent were already cultivated. A large part of the project area was handcleared by unauthorized settlers before the mechanized programme started in the Simsim area, about 60 km south-west of Abu Irwa.
In the middle of the 1970s, an estimated 1.8 million feddans (800,000 ha) were under mechanized farming in Sudan. The majority were operated by absentee entrepreneurs on previously unalienated land which was state domain according to Sudanese practice. Some mechanized operators are squatters or hold the land by virtue of their tilling it, and some are leaseholders on mechanized schemes. The schemes, begun in the 1940s, are typically located on hard clay soils tillable only during and immediately following the annual rainy season. The ground is too hard to break by subsistence farmers on any significant scale without mechanized power. Scheme participants do not settle permanently on their plots: huts, if any, are used only during the single, long crop season. Production on earlier schemes suffered because farmers did not allow for restoration of soil fertility; they abandoned an area when it was exhausted and moved into fresh territory. As long as land is sufficiently plentiful, and capital and labour are sufficiently scarce. continuous cropping, soil depletion, and shifting cultivation seem to be the most economic response to prevailing prices and regulations.
In addition, a high proportion of the land was supposed to be kept in fallow (25 per cent on each farm) because the then-continuous sorghum cropping, the principal crop enterprise, was expected to lead to deterioration in soil structure, depletion of soil nutrients, weed and pest infestations, and invasion of wild sorghum. But fallowing. as an element of enterprise planning, was phased out in 1974/75 because of lack of control by the MFC.
The present land laws in the Sudan declare all native land to be under the ownership of the government, but local authorities have, in practice, control over all land. However, the land laws do not grant any proprietary title to cultivators of the land, only a right of occupation. Most of the land occupied by cultivators in the Sudan has been inherited; in the case of the Simsim Project the area was inhabited by nomads who apparently did not oppose the start of mechanized farming practices on their traditional grazing grounds.
The total land area of cultivated farms has increased steadily at the project site, reflecting the allocation of new farms and the expansion of farm sizes. Cotton cultivation ceased in 1971/72, and sesame expanded at a more rapid rate than sorghum in terms of land area. But most farmers were unable to complete plowing operations on water-logged soil, reflecting the critical importance of timeliness in this type of agriculture. The number of farms established and the area cultivated are indicated in Table 2.
The shifting from cotton to sesame reflects a greater profitability because of low yields of the first, and attractive prices for the latter, during most of the years since 1970. The primary constraint on increasing the sesame area occurs in harvesting, which must be done during a period of not more than four weeks before shattering occurs at full maturity. Mechanized technology for harvesting sesame has yet to be developed.
The yields obtained in the project area have varied considerably due to a number of factors. To summarize, it appears that farmers have on the average failed to obtain the yields projected, although there is. no doubt, a high reward in the form of relatively abundant yields in most years for good operators who have sufficient supplies of inputs, fuel and labour on their farms at the time when cultivation can begin, to permit them to get an early start and to work without interruption. MFC has reported the yields shown in Table. 4.
The table also lists appraisal estimates by the World Bank.
TABLE 2. Land Use on Cultivated Project Farms
|Number of farms|
|Feddans per farm||952||952||952||1 428||1 428||1 428|
|Total feddans on farms|
|Cultivated||38 080||80 920||113 288||131 376||167 076||184 212|
|Land use by
|Sorghum||14 280a||40 460||63 000||58 000||100 000||50 000b|
|Sesame||4 760||11 186||17 000||24 000||40 000||40 000|
|Cotton||9 520||9 044||-||-||-|
|Followedc||9 520a||20 230||28 322||-|
|Not cultivated or||49 376||27 076|
|Unaccounted for||-||-||4 966||94 212b|
|Total feddans||38 080||80 920||113 288||131 376||167 076||184 212|
Source: IBRD. Performance Audit Report. pp. 10-11. Data from Mechanized Farming Corporation.
Land-use data obtained in Gedaref differed somewhat from that provided in Khartoum.
a. Some reports from 1969/70 state that land scheduled for fallow in 1969/70
was planted with sorghum by government order. while other data maintain
following was as scheduled. MFC officials also gave conflicting reports on this
phenomenon when questioned during the audit field visit. It appears probable
that a portion of the 9.520 feddans originally scheduled for following was put
under sorghum. but that the order was received too late in the planting season
to have had an impact on the entire area.
b. Heavy rains resulted in greatly reduced areas cultivated in 1974/75.
c. Refers to a conscious attempt to restore fertility.
TABLE 3. Land Use in the Project in Percentages of the Total Area of Farms Cultivated
|Crop/Land Use||Appraisal Estimate||1969/70||1970/71||1971/72||1972/73||1973/74||1974/75|
Source: IBRD. Performance Audit Report, pp.10-11.
a. "Other'' lend use refers only to fallow land, land left uncultivated
for reasons other than intentional following and statistical errors and
omissions in land-use recording.
b. See footnote a in Table 2.
The appraisal report expected sorghum and cotton yields to be somewhat depressed during the first two seasons (presumably reflecting the farmers' and MFC's learning curves. the accumulation of field experience, etc.), but to achieve a projected plateau level in the third season. These expectations were based on the careful selection of tenants. the impact of MFC technical services and the use of mechanical planters, and good husbandry. As shown in the table, yields have been generally lower than expected and appear to decline erratically. The level of yields probably reflects organizational problems encountered by many farmers, which result in some untimeliness in their operations. Transport during the preparation and planting period is extremely difficult, making it imperative that logistic arrangements be completed prior to the start of the rains if timely operations are to be achieved. In addition, yields fluctuate greatly from season to season. It is certainly difficult to judge whether the decline in yields results from the amount and distribution of rainfall, or from the deterioration of management and soil exhaustion, as well.
3.1.2 Economic Performance
The economic performance of the project can only be calculated if prices, market volumes, and incomes are known and costs of operation are recorded.
Prices for sesame have increased each season and in 1975 stood at more than double the level prevailing in the project's first two seasons and thrice the figure quoted in the 1968 appraisal report. Prices for sorghum were already twice as high by the first year of farming compared with the forecast, reaching low points in 1971/72 but rising in 1973/74 and the following season to surpass the levels which were obtained at the start of the project. It is noteworthy that the project's worst year in terms of participants' interest, 1972/73, occurred after a 40 per cent fall in sorghum prices, and that the upsurge in participant interest in 1974/75 followed the recovery of sorghum prices and a jump in sesame prices to more than 50 per cent higher than those in earlier project years.
The estimated total project production (gross value) is £S 520,000 per annum using the conservative yield assumption given in Table 5. The variability of output and participants' income can be substantial, as suggested by the decline of almost £S 1,000,000 between the 1973/74 and 1974/75 gross output values. That difference is certainly an extreme, but the possibility of such fluctuation is obviously real and will be a function of the instability of prices as well as yields and areas.
The total costs of the project were initially estimated at $8 million (US dollars). But the actual spending was slightly lower because: (a) the unit costs of farm machinery and equipment were lower than expected, partly because of an increasingly competitive tractor market; (b) hand clearing proved more attractive than mechanical clearance if labour was available for a portion of the clearing.
The World Bank financed the whole foreign exchange cost, amounting to 62.5 per cent of the total. the farmers 7.5 per cent. and the Sudan government 30 per cent. The breakdown of the project costs shows:
|Land development (clearing,roads, hafirs, etc.)||$3.69 million|
|Farm investments (machinery equipment)||1.56 million|
|Land planning||0.14 million|
|Advisory services. management, administration||1.42 million|
TABLE 4. Comparison of Projected and Estimated Yields (kg per feddan) Obtained by Project Farmers, with Rainfall Data
|1973/74||180||160||510||400||157||n a.||(607 mm)|
Source: IBRD. Performance Audit Report, p. 13. Data from Mechanized Farming Corporation. Widely varying yield figures were obtained from different sources within MFC. a. The appraisal report indicates that average rainfall at weather stations near the project ranges from 670 mm to 731 mm. No indications of probability are given. It should also be noted that rainfall timing is perhaps as important as rainfall quantity in determining crop yields.
TABLE 5. Production Volumes and Values at Gedaref Market Prices, by Enterprise, Using Gedaref Yield Estimates
|Cotton- fattens||9 520||9 044||(Farm gate basis)|
|- kg yield per feddan||159||91|
|- total output in tons||1514||823|
|- market price per ton (£S)||37.80||34.30|
|- gross value of production (£S)||57 229||28 229||275 000|
|-kg yield per feddan||300||180||260||200||160||40|
|-total output in tons||1 428||2 013||4 420||4 800||6 400||1 600|
|-market price per ton (£S)||52.01||52.47||56.50||62.48||86.68||123.64|
|- gross value of production (£S)||74270||105622||249730||299904||554752||197824||50000|
|Sorghum -feddans||14 280||40 460||63 000||58 000||100 000||50 000|
|- kg yield per feddan||480||360||320||240||400||150|
|- total output in tons||6 854||14 566||20 160||13 920||40 000||7 500|
|- market price per ton (£S)||17.27||13.40||10.30||10.75||18.88||22.85|
|- gross value of production (£S)||118369||195184||207648||149640||755200||171 375||285000|
|Gross Value of Production for all Enterprises (£S)||249868||329035||457378||449544||1 309952||369199||610000|
Source: IBRD, Performance Audit Report, p. 16. Data from Mechanized Farming Corporation. Appraisal estimates are from the appraisal report and are for the project at maturity. projected for 1975/76 and following years.
However, the data given under-estimate the level of farm investments, as these figures relate only to the equipment supplied to participants under the auspices of the MFC. Many farmers purchased additional equipment financed from other sources, of course with some other alternative employment opportunities, especially for trucks.
The returns to the participating farmers show annual gross farm receipts ranging from £S 2.878 to £S 11,227 for the typical farm during the years of review, indicating a great deal of variability over time. The costs of production have mounted steadily during the life of the project. Labour is the largest single cost and the category responsible for most of the increase. Labour amounted to 48 per cent of the production costs of sorghum, and 63 per cent of sesame in 1969/70, compared to 64 per cent and 71 per cent, respectively, in 1974/75. Net farm profits have ranged between a loss of £S 3,244 and a profit of £S 2,1 26 for the typical operation over the period. Four out of six years have been profitable, although one of these four was only marginally so.
The hypothetical average farmer who joined the project in 1969/70 and cultivated each year since then appears to have incurred a financial rate of return on his equity well above 100 per cent through 1974/ 75 even after allowing for the depressing effect of the last year. Farmers who joined the project later missed the high yields of the first year and had to encounter losses over the total period. Despite this theoretical picture. negative for the average farmer. the long list of applicants for new plots at the project's expansion area reflects both the expectation that good years will return and short-run financial rewards of the risk taking can be realized, and the lack of alternative opportunities for working capital investment. Fallow and permanence are certainly not part of this strategy. The rate of return to the economy seems to be roughly equal to the private rate, as long as long-term environmental consequences are excluded. Calculations apply shadow rates to crop values. use market wage rates, and restore taxes, hidden benefits, and costs (including the loss of material for charcoal). The World Bank appraisal report calculated the economic rate of return to the investment at 17 per cent. However a major downward adjustment has to be made to allow for the apparent shortening of the project by not practising following. Soil exhaustion would reduce the life span of the project from 25 to 13 years, thus consequently, the economic rate of return would decline to a meagre five per cent. assuming that the cash flow is not more erratic than previously. This last calculation shows that private profitability in particularly good years because of sufficient rainfall-after that peak year, a private investor may move out with large windfall gains-is no indication whatsoever of how the economy as a whole will gain from such a project over longer periods.
Without the investment in infrastructure, the project's output and preceding input would also not have been forthcoming. The road-building component proceeded according to schedule and raised, graded, and drained a few important arterial routes, including the 70 km access road to the main Gedaref highway, and a small network of subsidiary roads. None were hard-surfaced, but they substantially improved the area's access.
The government also wanted water provided to every farm, but the original plan provided for community and private onfarm reservoirs only for those farms which were too far away from the existing reservoirs. The provision of water must be considered as the necessary precondition for farming in that area at all, and the costs are therefore part of the production input allocated to all farmers in various degrees.
3.1.4 Human Factors and Labour
The farmers who took up land under the scheme came from different quarters of the country. They belonged to the more wealthy strata of the society, showed risk-taking attitudes above average, and were apparently not interested in permanent settlement and cultivation. They used this opportunity as an alternative for investment, which could also have taken place in other sectors of the economy. The high degree of public support through the activities of the MFC made the enterprise possible (through loans and credit arrangements) and kept the risk of losing private financial resources quite low.
The initial group of farmers who started the scheme numbered 40 in 1969/70 and rose to 129 in 1974/75 but the number of farms which were "deserted" during that period was quite substantial and added up to 35 in the last year. This means that there has been considerable fluctuation and reallocation of farms to new owners. The "deserters" appear to fall into three categories. One category consists of inexperienced operators who had not performed according to their expectations and decided to cut their losses by discontinuing operations
TABLE 6. Estimated On-Farm Employment Created by the Project
|1. Per-farm basis. assuming 300 feddans sesame. 800 feddans sorghum:|
|Tractor Drivers||2 from July through September||6|
|1 from October through February||5|
|sesame||7 persons for two weeks||3|
|sorghum||1 man-day per feddan||27|
|sesame||3 man-days per feddan||30|
|cutting and tying. 5 man-days per feddan |
threshing. 1 man-day per feddan
|2 harvester operators. 2 greasers, and|
|(175 feddans) |
|8 laborers for 2 days at 10 feddans per hour||1|
|sorghum (625 feddans)||2 harvester operators. 2 greasers, and|
|8 laborers for 7 days at 10 feddans per hour||3|
|Total man-months of labor per farm||163|
|Total man-years per farm per season||14|
|2. Project basis. assuming 125 farms cultivated:|
|Total man-months per season||20 375|
|ToteI man -years per season||1 696|
Source: IBRD. Performance Audit Report. p. 26.
Another group included otherwise successful operators who had insufficient financial resources to operate their farms. A third group was found among those who were willing to leave their plots idle the following season because they felt that expected returns for that season did not justify the investment. Altogether. "desertion" leads to utilization rates of less than 85 per cent of the project area in each particular year. But in early 1975, over 800 applications were on hand for fewer than 100 plots. new or re-allocated in the First and Second Mechanized Farming Project areas, suggesting no lack of general interest in the farming schemes.It is estimated that at least 50 per cent of these applicants could not establish themselves as mechanized farmers without the project's help: others could, but took advantage of the opportunity to get access to additional resources to lower their personal risk.
Project operations are characterized by a relatively high degree of labour intensity. Weeding is done largely by hand. The preferred local sorghums are non-combinable and hence require hand cutting, transport to combine harvesters, and hand feeding into the machines, which perform essentially as threshing machines. Farm labour is drawn from several sources: residents of the Gedaref area, migrants from other parts of Sudan, casuals from Eritrea and the Tigre Province in Ethiopia. Assuming 125 active farms per season. the total project farm labour requirement is about 1,700 man-years per season. The wage bill probably exceeds £S 350,000 at current prices. Despite the fact that employment creation did not figure prominently among the project's goals, the above-stated fact gives at least some indication about the actual impact. In addition. some off-the-farm employment has been created. especially in servicing the machinery and transport vehicles, as well as in some marketing enterprises.
The Sudan government proposed the inclusion of co-operatives with local peasant membership in order to enable some of the poorer sections of the population to benefit from the project as farmers, not as simple farm labourers. But only seven farms allocated to co-operatives were cultivated in 1974/75. Three other societies failed to take up allocated plots in 1970/71 due to organizational problems and lack of capital, and several operational societies have subsequently failed to cultivate their plots on a continuous basis.
The question of failure of co-operatives at the Simsim Scheme is part of the general scope of problems that most co-operatives face in developing countries. They can be described in three major points: (1) lack of economic incentives for the members, (2) lack of sufficient working capital, and (3) lack of motivation and organizational know-how of the co-operative's staff.
The Simsim Mechanized Farming Project has nearly reached its objective to establish 140 farms to cultivate arid land previously not productive. The project thus enlarged the Sudan's agricultural potential and added to the market supply of sorghum and sesame for domestic consumption. The income from the scheme benefited a small number of entrepreneurs capable of bearing large risks of failure; the creation of additional employment was minimal. The gross value of production for all enterprises reached only two thirds of the appraisal estimates. The economic rate of return to the economy and to the private cultivator shows a great variability, but may be around 5 per cent per annum, relatively low due to soil exhaustion's reducing the life span of the project rapidly. Environmental threats must therefore be considered as important and have to be watched, but logistic and organizational problems also need particular attention.
The 1959 Nile Waters Agreement allowed construction of the High Dam at Aswan and the inundation of large Egyptian and Sudanese areas on the banks of the Nile which were inhabited by Nubians and used for agricultural production. On the Sudanese side, about 50.000 persons living in the Wadi Halfa District had to be moved to other places. It was decided to use the water of the Atbara River, a tributary of the Nile, for development of agricultural lands on which the Halfa people could be resettled and inhabitants of the area established as resident farmers. A large plain area of the Butana, about 400 km east of Khartoum. was chosen for the scheme. In 1964 the transfer of the majority of the Nubians from Wadi Halfa to the Khashm el Girba Scheme took place. Around 40.000 people were settled and housed in 25 villages. Each family was entitled to receive 6.3 ha (15 feddans) of irrigable land under a tenancy agreement. This was a change from the traditional tenure system at Wadi Halfa but was felt necessary because of the capital investment involved.
a) By opening up nearly 190.000 ha of fertile land for intensive cultivation
under irrigation, followed by investment in the secondary and tertiary sectors
of the economy, a new economic centre in the sparsely populated eastern area of
the country was to be created.
b) The project was to compensate the Nubians from Wadi Halfa by generous provision of land. housing, and services for the material and non-material losses they had experienced.
c) The major part of the land was to serve for the settlement of nomads whose tribes had claims on part of the land used for the Khashm el Girba Scheme and who lived partly in the neighbourhood of the scheme. This undertaking would be a step towards solving the nomad problems of the Sudan and give experience in making migrant camel- and sheepholders resident farmers.
d) The project was to contribute to an increase in the export earnings of the country by the production of cotton and groundnuts. The Sudan was already the world's fifth-largest cotton exporter and had found good outlets for this produce. Good markets, particularly international markets, were also expected for the eventual supply of groundnuts.
e) By producing wheat and sugar, the national economy would become less dependent on food imports. The Sudan had an import demand for wheat of about 150,000 tons and for sugar of 120.000-140,000 tons before the Khashm el Girba production was started. The yearly production of at least 50.000 tons of wheat and 60,000 tons of sugar in Khashm el Girba would considerably improve the balance of payments.
f) Sugar was to be produced on a state-owned and -managed sugar cane plantation, whereas cotton. wheat. and groundnuts were to be grown by the settlers in a three-crop rotation without fallow on 6.3 ha (15 feddan) farms. The settlers would not be allowed to cultivate other crops or to feed herds of animals in the scheme. The only exception would be the freehold land provided additionally as compensation to Nubians which could be utilized at the discretion of the owners. The 6.3 ha would be given on a yearly renewable lease basis to selected applicants from Wadi Halfa and from the nomadic tribes of the areas near the scheme. The organization of farming would partly follow the experiences made in the Gezira Scheme, e.g.. in the supervision of production, in utilization of farm inputs, and in the marketing of products.
g) The scheme was to be developed in different phases. Phase I in 1964/65 included, apart from the completion of the sugar factory and sugar cane plantation, the resettlement of the Wadi Halfa people. In the subsequent years, three or four phases would follow with settlement of more nomads and an extension of the sugar cane plantation.
h) In connection with the agricultural production, some industries were to be established in the scheme. Sugar cane was to be processed in one, later on possibly in two, large factories. The later plans included the construction of cotton ginneries and wheat flour mills. The electricity produced in the Khashm el Girba dam was to be used as power for the industries.
3.2.1 Production Problems
The climate of the area is semi-arid with a low annual rainfall of 200 300 mm during the months June to September. Rainfall varies considerably from year to year, with the maximum precipitation in July and August. Temperatures are generally high; the mean daily temperature is 29°C. with a mean daily maximum of 41°C in May and a mean daily minimum of 15°C in January. The relative humidity is highest during the rainy season, with a mean of 45 per cent in August, and lowest in April, with a mean of 10 per cent. The project is situated on a flat plain; the soils are alkaline, dark-coloured, cracking, heavy clays. The farming pattern in the scheme is influenced by the experience in Gezira, but in contrast. no fallow is provided for. Cotton production is the backbone of the economy; the variety grown is a middle staple, ACALA 4.42. The wheat grown belongs to two Egyptian varieties, Giza 144 and Giza 155. During many years the tenants refused to plant groundnuts. but now greater progress has been made in this respect.
The net areas presently irrigated and the yields recorded from 1964 to 1976 are shown in Tables 7 and 8.
The live storage of the Khashm el Girba reservoir, Originally 1,300 million cubic meters. has decreased at an estimated rate of 50 million cubic meters annually due to sediment deposits. If this estimate is correct, only 800 million cubic meters of live storage were left in 1976. To offset this serious situation it is proposed to build two new embankment dams upstream as a silt trap and for flow regulation. It is hoped that they will also irrigate an additional area of land and generate about 80 MWh per year.
TABLE 7. Net Areas: Khashm el Girba Irrigation Scheme
|Section||Irrigable Area |
Every Year at Full
|1. Hawasha||A||48 600||48 600|
|1/3 cotton.||C||48 700||48 700|
|1/3 wheat,||D||58 865||58 865|
|1/3 groundnuts||E||67 385||67 385|
|F||5 0||58 20|
|TOTAL||331 900||331 900a|
|2. Afforestation approx.||A-F||3 000||3000|
|3. Research station||A|
|4. Freehold land||26 000||26 000b|
|SUBTOTAL||360 900||360 900|
|5. Cane||-||21000||21 000c|
|6. Fallow||-||14 000|
|GRAND TOTAL||395 900||381 900|
Source: IBRD. Report on Reconnaissance Mission. p. 7.
a. Including pre-planting irrigation. cotton is irrigated 6 months per year,
wheat and groundnuts 5 months per year.
b. Not irrigated during critical periods of water availability.
c. Including pre-planting irrigation, new cane is irrigated for about 14 months out of 15. Ratoon crops are irrigated about 11 or 12 months out of 12 to 13 months.
TABLE 8. Agricultural Yields of the Khashm el Girba Irrigation Scheme
|big kantar |
|m. ton |
|m. ton |
|m. ton |
|m. ton |
|m. ton |
Source: IBRD. Report on Reconnaissance Mission, Annex 2.
1 feddan = 0.420 ha
1 m. ton/ha = 2.97 big kantar/feddan
1 big kantar / feddan=0.337 m. ton/ha
1 ha = 2.380 feddan
Maintaining the canals free of silt deposits and especially of weeds (it seems that weeds on land as well as in the canals have become a calamity) is handicapped by a lack of equipment. For the whole irrigated area of about 400,000 feddans, the maintainance work is done by nine draglines, three dozers. two graders. and one comer; this is totally inadequate. Water shortage occurs in June-July, when the reservoir is empty. and it happens almost every year from December to February, when only about two thirds of the requested water is delivered The drainage system has been completed only on some parts of the scheme, and is non-existent in others.
The production problems of the scheme can be summarized as follows.
a) Water shortages definitely occur for one reason or another; they happen at different times of the year.
b) The conveyance capacity of the canal system is greatly reduced due to the lack of maintenance.
c) Shortage of irrigation water is one reason why wheat yields are extremely low since wheat is especially affected by lack of water during the last two months of its growth.
d) There is no doubt that better drainage would increase cotton yields. An aggravating circumstance is the frequent absence of tenants and their lack of interest; water stagnates on the land because nobody opens the outlets.
e) Land preparation by the Agricultural Corporation was not carried out in time because of the shortage of equipment and fuel. For this reason, among others, planting of different crops was done late, irrigation of crops overlapped, water requirements were disorganized, peak demand increased, and tenants lost faith in the Agricultural Corporation.
f) The weeding problem has gotten out of hand, both in the canals and on land; it has passed the point where it could be controlled without the use of herbicides. In the past, tenants were disciplined whenever they did not fulfil their duties, such as weeding or early planting.
What steps can be taken to obtain reasonable yields, in what sequence. and which of these steps are likely to be economically justifiable?
Obviously, average cotton yields of 1.3 to 1.7 metric tons per ha are by far too low for medium staple cotton growth on first-class soils after a "learning period'' of 12 years. The yields for wheat amount to less than half the value obtained in Egypt for the same variety (Giza 155). The roots of the difficulties lie deeper than the already-mentioned shortcomings. For instance, how was the crop rotation cotton-wheat-groundnuts selected, after teams of consultants had considered 14 crops in 16 different rotations combining a cash crop, a cereal, and a fodder crop (including legumes)-none of which included the finally selected composition ? Which crop selection is really more likely to be both successful and economic, taking into consideration all aspects such as timing of agricultural operations, water availability and existing conveyance capacity, personnel requirements, pest control, aptitude of farmers, etc. ? If labour availability is presently a difficulty and likely to become a serious constraint in the future, maybe less labour-intensive harvesting methods are preferable. Does it make sense, in view of the existing weed problems, that land is left fallow for two years instead of growing and cultivating some kind of cash or fodder crops on it ? What about encouraging tenants to grow different or additional crops to counteract the weed problem ? A research programme is urgently needed to answer these questions, depending, of course, on the capacity of the scheme administration and tenants to implement the results.
Evaluating the 1976/77 agricultural season, the Agricultural Corporation stated that a number of improvements have been achieved, especially through a better internal organization: a) A senior agricultural inspector is now responsible for the agricultural work in each section as opposed to previous practice, which gave authority to the specialist in the headquarters office. b) Priority is given to the field operations, and inspectors are now involved in all operations from seed bed preparation up to harvesting. c) Extension work is also included in the inspector's duties, in addition to the agricultural committees in the villages.
As a result of these changes, land preparation for cotton, the main crop, could be done early enough in recent years to allow cotton sowing during August. This is recommended because of the three crops in rotation, which means that many farming practices and operations have to be carried out within short periods of time, bearing in mind that the last irrigation for cotton should not be later than midJanuary in order to avoid the season of the Egyptian bollworm and to minimize the danger of damage by animals during the picking season.
Mistakes in sowing were due to bad supervision by farmers of the labourers; the recommended distance between holes was not observed, holes had been dug by foot instead of using the Jarraya implement, the number of seeds per hole exceeded the recommended number. Mistakes in fertilization were observed mainly at the distribution stage in the field. Resowing has not been practiced, despite its recognized value, because of the lack of extension information and the absence of a loan system to tenants for hiring labourers for this purpose. Thinning is rarely practiced, with disastrous results on yields and increased pests. Irrigation is not done properly; 14-day intervals are not observed, and water-logging is common. The weeding operation is carried out three times during the growing season, and the farmers are granted three loans of £S 8, £S 4, and £S 2.5. But three times is not enough and four times should be introduced, paying loans of £S 8, £S 7.5, and 2 x £S 5. Green ridging has been done for only 80 per cent of the rotation because of the limited machinery and fuel supply. The same fuel shortage limited the spraying operation by airplane against the white fly. It also led to the appearance of assail and the abnormal opening of the bolls, which in turn necessitated an increase in the number of sprayings.
3.2.2 Economic Performance
Being a large public enterprise, the Khashm el Girba scheme has a refined system of the division of responsibilities, costs. and incomes between the Agricultural Production Corporation and the tenants. With respect to cotton production, the influence of the management is much stronger than on other crops. The operations are carried out partly by the corporation and partly by the tenants, who may employ hired labour, as indicated in Table 9.
To share the net returns of cotton on a 50:50 basis between tenants and the corporation, a cost-sharing system-a "joint account" exists. The labour costs proved to be the major cost item. In rounded figures, Iabour costs for the production of cotton at one tenant's holding (2.1 ha) showed the distribution pattern indicated in Table 10.
The result of subtracting the total costs (labour and others) from the gross returns of the holding for cotton led to a net revenue in 1967/68 of £S 10 and in 1968/69 of approximately £S 20. The comparison with net returns for wheat of £S 44 and £S 62, respectively. during the same years makes it understandable that tenants are not so interested in cotton production, especially if they have to wait for payment very long after delivery.
These absolute figures have to be used with caution. Paying no water rate for wheat at all and with mechanized services available at relatively low prices (subsidized). they show the private profitability only, not the public profitability. The calculation did not take into account the contribution of family labour, which is estimated as one third of the labour costs. The total cash income per holding could then be valued at £S 81 in 1967/68 and £S 110 in 1968/ 69. But to complicate things even further it has to be kept in mind that many tenants have additional income from freehold land outside the scheme and from other occupations. Little is known about the earlier income situation of nomad settlers. Having usually kept their livestock herds only, their income from farming must now be an addition. leading to a better income position compared with the previous livestock income alone.
To provide a high standard of living and particularly good amenities for the first group of settlers, and to make the Khashm el Girba Scheme attractive, a relatively dense infrastructure had to be brought into existence. Twenty-five villages, each accommodating 250-300 families, were constructed. Each family was allocated a standard design house costing about £S 2,500. Each village has retained the name of its former quarters. Living conditions of the Halfawis are very stable compared to those of the nomadic Arab villages. The Halfawis have been supplied with potable water, social and health services, security points, schools, mosques, market places, flour mills, post and telegraph services, cinemas, and sports facilities. The villages are linked by dust-pack roads on which regular local bus lines operate. A rail track divides the area running from south to north. New Halfa lies in the centre, and the villages are some five to seven miles apart.
TABLE 9. Responsibility of the Agricultural Production Corporation for Farming Operations in the Settlement Scheme
|Maintenance and weeding||partial||none|
|Cleaning of fields||partial||none|
|Provision of seeds||complete||partial|
|Application of fertilizer||complete||none|
|Watering of fields||partial||partial|
|Timing of operations||complete||none|
|Transport of product||partial||none|
TABLE 10. Labour Costs in Production of 2.1 Hectares of Cotton
|Picking and sack pressing||31.00|
|Pulling and cleaning||3.00|
|Total labour costs||73.50|
There is a large 550-bed hospital in New Halfa, while in the villages there are six health centres, five outpatient clinics, and fourteen dressing stations. The Halfawi villages are quite self-sustaining at the various levels of education, bringing this area ahead of others in the Sudan. In addition to numerous primary schools, there are institutes of secondary education and an agricultural high school.
For the local population (Arab nomads), villages were planned and constructed in Phases Il-V of the project, but they are lower in standards when compared with Phase I. After over ten years of the scheme, the nomads' ties to their allotments have done little to change their original way of life. They still continue with their herding and rain-fed cultivation in autumn.
The transport system is ineffective. There are practically no acceptable roads either inside the scheme or outside. The vehicles are insufficient. too old to be reliable, there is little or no maintenance, and fuel shortages are frequent. The number of tractors in operation has been as low as 50 from 290 received in 1966. In 1977 the situation had improved, but still there was only one tractor for 150 ha instead of one for 100 ha. Six large workshops and a warehouse in New Halfa have been constructed to ease the servicing situation for the equipment. The previous open-air storage of pesticides, fertilizer, spare parts. etc.. has changed to covered constructions. keeping losses lower.
The telephone communication system has largely broken down or has never been established sufficiently. A request. for instance. to change the opening of the control gate to the main irrigation canal at the dam, is passed on by telephone only from MOI headquarters. But there is no telephone between the eight sections; messages have to be sent by car. if one is available at all.
The rate of industrialization of the whole area is impressive, especially with sugar factories, ginneries, flour mills. etc. Services. handicrafts, and trades complete the picture of commercial activities introduced by the scheme. Further expansion in New Halfa is expected up to a total population of 30,000.
3.2.4 Human Factors and Labour
The tenants are definitely a delicate subject, whether they are Halfawis or nomads. The whole operation still retains a kind of welfare flavour; after all, the Nubians were receiving compensation for their involuntary displacement, and the nomads were lending themselves to an experiment in sedentarization. Most of the time, the comments about settlers are from unfavourable to very unfavourable. The Nubians are called lazy. petty landlords, absentee landlords, and farming entrepreneurs. The nomads are accused of being only semi-settled, tending their camels and cattle outside the scheme at times when they should be working on their holdings. Both kinds of tenants, for whatever reason, perform agricultural operations quite offschedule, producing unjustifiable peaks in water demand and equipment requirements, making spraying less effective due to the heterogeneity of growth, and generally reducing the yields. On the other hand, the scheme management has in the past never assumed a strong position towards any settlers, no matter how undisciplined they were. Tenants did not fulfill their duties, such as weeding, and planted most crops too late. However, no settler was ever evicted, although legal dispositions had been established which permitted eviction.
After their evacuation, the Halfawis found themselves faced with agriculture as their livelihood. However, it was a totally different kind of agriculture from that which they had practiced in the "old country." They found themselves on land scheduled to produce three rotations of crops. Each found himself with 15 freehold feddans compared to what he had owned in the past. They were met with legislation specifying dates of planting and techniques to be adopted and laws that governed the relationship between production and the State. They found themselves under different natural conditions as regards rainfall, soil, and irrigation. They were called upon to cultivate crops with which they had had no previous experience, such as cotton and groundnuts. The Halfawis were suddenly called upon to cultivate several fields, some of which lay at a considerable distance from the villages, adding to the burdens involved. There was a shortage of labour. so that some Halfawis resorted to sharecropping. others leased out their fields. while some resorted to cooperatives to be able to farm their holdings collectively. Since most operations were mechanized, there were numerous difficulties arising out of operating and maintaining equipment with which the newcomers were totally unfamiliar.
Many Halfawis have professions other than agriculture. Many are employees, traders, health workers, drivers, and so on. Despite the ardent retention of his holding, the Halfawi had been forced into seeking such employment, since the income from his holding had been-until recently- inadequate. The Halfawis have begun to establish relations with neighbouring tribes, even though they still cling to their own customs and traditions. which they hold to be far superior to those of others. This interaction between the Halfawis and others is apparent in the manner in which the co-operatives deal with the local population. Joint committees and federations such as the Farmers Federation have been set up. which is an example of the change of feelings and trends among the Halfawi population. Also, the number of emigrants from the area has been reduced. This seems to be due to the employment opportunities available. The absentee percentage has dropped from the 1967 figure of 40 per cent to 25 per cent. The birthrate has risen since the first year of migration.
The original inhabitants of the area are people of the El Butana region. They are nomads from the Beja, Shukriyya, Ahamda, Rashayda, Khawaida, Bawadra, and Lahwiyin tribes who now, as in the past, follow their herds through the El Butana pasture lands in autumn and settle for the summer along the Atbara and in permanent villages such as Asbry, Ghufla, Dinbar, and others. They continue. however, to carry out some rain-fed farming in autumn. One of the counterproductive attributes of the Arab nomads is that they often return to their fields long after the dates scheduled for farming operations to begin since they refuse to be tied down by dates. When they do arrive, they insist on herding their stock close to the fields and very often place the interests of their animals over those of the land. This is evident in the manner in which they allow their cattle to graze in the fields immediately after the second crop rather than harvest a third cropping. The population growth is minimal compared to that in Halfawi villages. Death and infant mortality rates are high, and disease is prevalent, because they have not settled down where health services can be extended to them.
The nomads stick to their original area remote from the scheme because many of the new villages still have no schools, no water supply. and no health centres. They often think that agricultural work on the scheme is bad; they have to buy milk and aura. their main diet, because they are not allowed to keep enough animals and to cultivate aura. The nomads know two things for sure: (1 ) they must keep their animals as a guarantee against insecure cultivation, (2) they must continue to cultivate aura on plots outside the scheme. This brings conflict between the APC, maximizing the scheme interest (production of cotton). and the tenants, maximizing their off-scheme interest (animals and aura production).
Those who mourn the Nubian "laziness" and their "irrational" behaviour see their traditional culture as barriers and not as resources for development. The planner often fails to understand traditional societies and their definition of the "good life.'' People are seldom allowed to participate in plan preparation and implementation. If they could, planners would become aware that there is a subjective rationality in the peoples' traditional values and institutions and that in every social system there is an infrastructure of incentives and restrictions.
An agriculture ridden by problems such as those outlined above forces tenants to pursue other interests. The Nubians have experience of a different kind of agriculture at Old Halfa and as urban labourers. This knowledge does not help very much, because soil and crops are different and the scheme is strongly mechanized. The tenancies are about 5 km away from the village, a fact that prohibits use of family labour to any extent. The women have to take care of their children, transport is difficult, and they also fear members of other ethnic groups. particularly the Beja tribes. The tenants are frustrated by the low returns of cotton. because all costs of the scheme are subtracted from cotton income alone. Therefore. wheat is preferred in cultivation; groundnuts are neglected because heavy soils make digging difficult and require washing of the crop. The tenant therefore develops his freehold land, which is closer to the village, cultivating vegetables for subsistence. Yields in the scheme are affected by a number of factors. many of which are not controlled by the tenants themselves but are influenced by the Agricultural Corporation.
The labour shortage is chronic. The period of picking is the most critical
one so that the corporation is trying to provide additional labour and all other
facilities needed, such as supervision, improvement of the operation and
transportation. All the cotton area is usually planted at the same time. which
implies the simultaneous opening of the bolls within a short period. For the
season 1976/77 the management of the scheme suggested that at least 110,000
labourers should be provided: 40,000 from farmers and families, 70.000 from
outside the scheme. Three committees were responsible for the recruiting along
the East Atbara River. in the western area, and in the northern and southern
regions. But the total number of registered labourers reached only 17,131. This
figure was very low compared with the requirements. Some reasons are given as
a) Tribal heads exaggerate the number of people in their tribes.
b) The majority of labourers prefer to work in certain blocks because of distance. working conditions. ethnic relationships, etc. This leads to very bad distribution of the labour.
c) Competition for labour exists with the Gezira Scheme in the Kassala Province and especially with the Rahad Scheme.
Seasonal labour in 1975/76 earned about 30 piastres per day plus food, or
roughly two thirds of the urban minimum wage. Evidence shows that migration for
seasonal employment depends upon the level of income in the sending area, or
rather the difference in earnings between the sending and receiving areas. and
not on the degree of under-employment in traditional agriculture. The ILO report
on "Growth, Employment, and Equity" (1976) raises the question of
whether it would be cheaper to increase the supply of seasonal labour by
subsidizing transport to the scheme than to try to solve the problem of labour
shortage by mechanizing certain agricultural operations now carried out by hand.
The migrant population consists of four groups:
1 ) a small group of males who have finally obtained a plot of land for themselves or a job in one of the smaller towns;
2) men and women who have established certain links and go back to the same tenant year after year; they come from as far as Chad, Central West Africa, and northern Nigeria;
3) a group of males, possibly one third of the total migrant population, who are maximizing their earnings over a short time period and are, therefore. highly mobile: they drift around and after two or three years. they have saved enough money to return, possibly never to migrate again;
4) another one third of the migrants, women and men, return home as soon as the cotton is harvested.
The Khashm el Girba Scheme reached its objective to settle 50,000 persons, Nubians and nomads. The envisaged cultivation of nearly 190,000 ha was accomplished. but the expected yields of cotton, groundnuts, and wheat did not materialize. The total cash income per holding did not exceed in the average £S 100 per annum. A number of shortcomings. technical. organizational, social, and individual, led to an unsatisfactory economic performance compared with the total capital investment provided by the national economy. But from the standpoint of project participants, the scheme may still be called successful. The Nubians needed a new homeland: they got it. The nomads looked for additional income and food security: it was provided for. The mixture of activities undertaken by the scheme's tenants, including offfarm jobs. makes for a much more secure, flexible, and diverse livelihood than the tenants had before. Some major lessons to learn for planners are: to listen to the local people even at the planning stage, to organize the production process with the priority of securing the food requirements of the people, and to choose appropriate technologies which the tenants are capable of handling.
The Sag el Na'am project is the only major agricultural development project in Northern Darfur. It was introduced to a region with very limited development potential to provide a nucleus of economic activities based on irrigated agricultural production for 420 families. The livelihood of the population, which is expected to increase to 3.00 3,500 in total, was to be secured through the cultivation of aura. dukhn, and summer pulses, as well as wheat and winter pulses. In addition, a wide variety of other crops. including vegetables, citrus, and forage, was to be grown to stabilize the local supply of essential food and feed products.
The project has political importance to demonstrate the desire of the government to support local initiative of the population to remain in marginal areas, despite the high costs involved. From the beginning it was clear that exceptionally high pumping costs. because of the very deep aquifer, had to be justified by results mainly on social and equity grounds, not on economic or financial ones. In this light, the main objective of the project can be considered to be the minimizing of the costs of production at Sag el Na'am to a point which balances the financial losses of the government with the private and social benefits for the population involved.
3.3.1 Performance Analysis
The project is based upon the ground-water reservoir of the Alauna Basin, which suffers from the major disadvantage that the static water level lies about 90 meters below the surface. Pumping is therefore exceptionally expensive. Despite the very high pumping costs. a decision to proceed with a pilot scheme was taken during the early 1970s. Three wells were equipped with 100 m³/ha capacity pumps in time to irrigate 125 feddans during the 1975 kharif (rainy) season, and further development allowed 300 feddans to be irrigated in the following shita (winter) season. Forty 180 m³/ha capacity pumps have been ordered, and by June 1976 the drilling programme in preparation for these pumps was 50 per cent complete. When these pumps are fully installed. the irrigated area will increase to just under 3,000 feddans.
The main crops grown during 1975/76 were aura (sorghum), wheat, and pulses, together with a wide range of vegetables and other minor crops. Field irrigation is based upon the traditional Angaia system (practiced elsewhere in the Sudan), with each well command divided into units of five feddans each. The main disadvantage of the present layout is its unsuitability for mechanized farming. and the failure to measure the amount of water pumped must also be considered a major deficiency.
Despite these and a few other drawbacks, the development and subsequent
management of the project has been impressive. The scale of development has,
however, so far been small and with expansion, a number of problems can be
expected to emerge:
a) Pumping abstractions may approach or exceed the safe yield.
b) Continuous cultivation of the Sag el Na'am soils could lead to fertility and salinity problems.
c) It may prove difficult to maintain delivery of fuel and other supplies, given the project's isolation. d) The limited markets of Northern Darfur and the great distances to other markets will increasingly affect the ease with which agricultural output can be sold.
e) Managerial, maintenance, and operational problems will increase with scale of operations, and particular difficulties could be associated with the initiation of a settler scheme.
f) Budgetary constraints may become serious since the exceptionally high pumping costs and other factors will necessitate a rapid increase in the level of subsidy.
TABLE 11. Major Development Characteristics at Project Maturity in Sag el Na'am
|Rated Discharge |
|Capacity of Pumps
|Well Commands (No.)||3||40|
|Area Irrigated (feddans)|
|Summer pulse/winter cereal a||-||1 200|
|Summer cereal/winter pulse a||-||900|
|Summer forage/winter cereal b||-||120|
|Perennial forage/summer cereal b||-||140|
|Settler garden plotsa||-||236|
|Total area||130b||2 676|
|Water Extraction (million cubic meters)|
|Summer season (kharif)||-||13.54|
|Winter season (shita)||-||9.27|
|Fuel Consumption (Imperial gallons/year)||54000||693 000|
Source: HTS. Sag el Na 'am Evaluation. 1976. p. xii.
a. Settler areas.
b. Areas operated using directly employed labour.
TABLE 12. Capital Cost Estimates: Forty 180 m³/ha Capacity Pump Programme (in thousands of £S)
|Other capital costs b||68.6||116.7||63.4||7.9||0.5||0.0|
|Total capital costs||511.9||496.0||178.8||87.6||74.4||68.2|
|Foreign exchange portion of capital costs||350.0||281.7||117.7||81.3||74.0||68.2|
Source: HTS, Sag el Na 'am Evaluation. 1976. p. xiv.
a. Financial year to the end of June.
b. Including principal repayments and interest charges.
The overall limits of this programme are based upon the current intentions of
the Ministry of Agriculture. The estimates can be discussed as follows:
a) Tenant farmers will be settled on 35 commands, cultivating two main cereal/pulse rotations and subsidiary garden plots. There are few demand constraints on the main summer crops (sorghum, millet, and groundnuts), but after allowing for pumping costs, the returns, especially for the cereals, are heavily negative. In contrast, the winter pulses. and to a lesser extent wheat. face limited markets but provide relatively favourable returns.
b) Labour employed directly by the project will be used for forage, horticulture (other than on garden plots). and the units commanded by the 100m³/ ha pumps, the latter being cropped as at present. Horticulture is relatively profitable but faces severely limited markets. Forage production gives a heavily negative return but is included for general developmental purposes.
c) Water extraction will rise to an estimated 23.7 million cubic meters per year. which is close to the estimated safe yield. Any expansion beyond this programme would therefore run the risk of mining the aquifer with a consequent continuous increase in the pumping costs.
d) Fuel requirements will rise to about 750,000 imperial gallons. The project will therefore require almost four times as much diesel as the total current needs of the province of Northern Darfur.
e) Each settler family will have five feddans of main crops and half a feddan of garden crops. This would result in the settlement of 420 families upon completion of the programme. Allowing for dependents and a direct labour force of 20 250, the total population in the scheme could rise to about 3,500. giving rise to a demand for housing, education. and other services.
Table 12 summarizes the estimated capital costs of the programme for the construction of 40 wells equipped with larger 180 m³/ha pumps. It excludes the costs associated with the smaller pumps and aims to be representative of any further expansion. The phasing assumes that all the wells will be constructed by the end of 1976/77 but that the pumps, although delivered in 1976/77, will not be fully operational until the 1979 kharif season. The payment schedule agreed upon with the pump suppliers forms the basis for the estimate given. Other capital costs include canalization. buildings, vehicles, and equipment. An element for engineering and supervision is included in wellconstruction costs, although this is on the conservative side and may understate actual charges of the Rural Water Corporation.
Table 13 summarizes the economic analysis for the forty 180 m³/ha capacity pump programme. Costs and returns are adjusted to reflect their real resource cost to the national economy through the exclusion of taxes and reflect the lack of other work opportunities during the dry season. The opportunity cost of capital is taken to be 8 per cent and the project life to be twenty years, with the pumps being replaced after ten years. Overhead costs include those costs which cannot be attributed to particular agricultural activities (for instance, management costs). Agricultural returns are given for both the present system of agriculture and for a possible system assuming that high yields are achieved (for instance, through the use of fertilizer). In practice, settlers are unlikely to achieve a level of agriculture much above that achieved at present. The increase in agricultural activities reflects the development schedule discussed earlier.
TABLE 13. Summary of Economic Analyses:.a Forty 180 m³/h Capacity Pump Programme (in thousands of £S)
|Present Value in 1975/76 at 8 per cent|
|Present System||Intensive System|
|Capital costs b||-1 415||- 1 415|
|Overhead costs||-455||- 455|
|Irrigation costs||-2 909||- 2 909|
|Net agricultural benefits c||+ 1 755||+ 3 063|
|Including capital costs||-3 024||- 1 716|
|Excluding capital costs||-1 609||- 301|
Source: HTS. Sag e/ Na 'am Evaluation 1976. pg. xv.
a. Medium price, yield, and cost assumptions. valued at ''social'' prices.
b. Excluding costs of vehicles and equipment included in farm costs in the form of a depreciation allowance.
c. Net labour. machinery, and farm input costs. but exclusive of irrigation costs.
The following conclusions can be drawn from the financial analysis.
a) A large current account deficit will occur. The annual subsidy required, on medium assumptions. rises to about £S 300.000 for present agricultural practices. and to £S 260,000 if intensive agricultural systems are achieved. Capital costs represent. of course. an additional subsidy.
b) The method suggested for charging the farmer is a compromise designed to be practicable and to maintain financial incentives. It would give an annual income of about £S 190 with present yields. and £S 400 if high yields are achieved. These compare with an annual income of about £S 40-50 from rain-fed agriculture. Higher charges could be made, but even so, settlers could not possibly pay for the full farm and irrigation costs.
c) The example illustrated in Table 13 indicates that total current costs (excluding settler labour) could amount to more than six times as much as the income accruing to the settlers. In other words, £S 6 or more will be spent (mainly on imported fuel) for every £S 1 of settler income created.
These analyses demonstrate that the Sag el Na'am project cannot be justified on economic or financial grounds. It is expensive to construct and operate, and a continuing annual subsidy of about £S 260,000300,000 will probably be required from central government funds. The project will benefit only about 3,000 to 3,500 people, and even if the money involved was to be given away, many more people could be assured of a comparable standard of living at less cost to the balance of payments.
TABLE 14. Present Valuea of Costs, Benefits, and Net Return in 1975/76 (in thousands of £S)
|Present Value||Present Value/
|Capital and Overhead Costs|
|Capital costs||40||- 1 415||- 1 346||- 1 218||- 35.4|
|Overhead costs||40||- 455||- 394||- 290||- 11.4|
|Agricultural Benefits: Present System|
|Summer pulse/winter cereal||20||- 578||- 489||- 338||- 28.9|
|Summer cereal/winter pulse||15||- 370||-313||- 215||- 24.7|
|Total on settler holdings||35||- 944||- 799||- 551||-27.0|
|Summer forage/winter cereal||2||- 102||- 86||- 60||- 51.0|
|Perennial forage||2||- 110||- 92||- 60||- 55.0|
|Total on project as a whole||40||- 1 154||- 976||- 670||-28.9|
|Agricultural Benefits: Intensive System|
|Summer pulse/winter cereal||20||-9||-8||-5||-0.5|
|Summer cereal/winter pulse||15||- 3||- 1||+2||-0.2|
|Total on settler holdings||35||+244||+208||+148||+7.0|
|Summer forage/winter cereal||2||-83||- 71||- 49||- 41.5|
|Perennial forage||2||- 102||- 85||- 56||- 51.0|
|Total on project as a whole||40||+154||+133||+101||+3.9|
|Net Present Value of Project|
|Including capital costs:|
|Present system||40||- 3 024||- 2 716||- 2 178||- 75.6|
|Intensive system||40||- 1 716||-1 607||- 1407||- 42.6|
|Excluding capital costs:|
|Present system||40||- 1 609||- 1 370||- 960||- 40.2|
|Intensive system||40||- 301||- 261||- 1 89||- 7.5|
Source: HTS. Sag el Na 'am Evaluation. 1976. p. 177.
a. Based on medium yield. price, and wage assumptions
TABLE 15. Returns for a 5.5 Feddan Settler Holding (fS per holding)
Present (Non-intensive) System
Summer/ Forage Wheat
Sorghum/ Ful masri
Summer Forage/ Wheat
|Farm Costs: Excluding Labour Costs|
|Summer crops||119.0||48.0||22 5||45.0||155.5||113.0||47.8||95.5|
|Winter crops||-8.25||+ 5.0||- 82.5||-18.0||+212.5||- 18.0|
|Garden crops||+12.0||+12.0||+12.0||+12.0||+87.0||+ 87.0||+87.0||+87.0|
|Total||- 392.0||- 244.5||- 568.1||- 674.5||- 79.0||+ 56.0||- 391.4||- 525.0|
Source: HTS. Sag el Na 'am Evaluation, 1976. p. 186.
If the project goes ahead, it will be important to ensure that the costs and difficulties of implementation are minimized. Nothing can be done about the great depth from which the water must be pumped, but there are other measures which could be taken to support the project to assure that, if it continues, it is as successful as possible.
3.3.2 Economic Evaluation
Table 14 summarizes the results of the economic evaluation. The life of the
project is taken to be twenty years, with Year 0 in 1975/76 and Year 20 in
1996/97. Three alternative interest rates are used to illustrate the sensitivity
of the results to changes in the assumed opportunity cost of capital. Eight per
cent probably reflects conditions in the Sudan most closely and is used in
subsequent sensitivity tests. A number of general conclusions can be drawn:
a) The project as a whole gives a heavy negative return, equivalent to a present value of £S 3.0 million at 8 per cent for the present system of agriculture, and £S 1.7 million for the intensive system: these are equivalent to an annual average loss of £S 118 and £S 67 per feddan for the whole area over the life of the project. For the settlement area alone, the-annual losses are equivalent to £S 626 and £S 337, respectively, for a 5.5 feddan holding. When it is recalled that the annual average income of a family on the Goz amounts to only £S 40-50, such losses are clearly exorbitant.
b) If capital costs are excluded (on the grounds that these have already been incurred or are committed), then at 8 per cent the annual losses for the whole area are equivalent to £S 62 and £S 11 per feddan. In other words, even excluding capital costs, the benefits fail to cover overhead. In the settlement area, the equivalent annual losses are £S 325 and £S 37 per 5.5 feddan holding.
c) Considerable variations occur in the returns from different rotations. At one extreme. the two-forage rotations show a heavy loss, which is only slightly reduced if intensive practices are adopted. At the other extreme, horticulture (and hence garden plots) is marginal under present conditions but is substantially in surplus under intensive conditions. In between. the main summer pulse/winter cereal and summer cereal/winter pulse rotations show negative returns under existing conditions and are marginal under intensive conditions: these. however. disguise significant seasonal differences. since heavy losses during the summer (especially for summer cereals) are offset by more favourable returns from the winter crops. Although horticultural returns are taken to represent the returns from the garden plots, this may prove optimistic and it is unlikely that more than the present returns will be achieved by settlers.
The Sag el Na'am Irrigation Project shows impressive results of producing agricultural crops under adverse environmental conditions. The price to be paid is a very high pumping cost with an internal rate of return of the project well below zero. This means that the gross returns from the present system fail to cover farm and irrigation costs by a wide margin. Even if higher yields could be achieved.
The project was designed to open opportunities for nomads to settle on 44 potential ranch sites of 10 x 10 km selected in the West Kordofan Babanusa area. It was hoped that the livestock would provide a regular supply of milk for the Babanusa Milk Factory to stabilize market supply on the one hand and additional income for the nomads on the other. The project was to serve as a nucleus for additional agricultural activities and for the provision of central services (schooling. health, etc.).
Southern Kordofan Province is approximately 135,000 km² in area. The central part is dominated by the Nuba Mountains and the basement-complex rocks, of which there are four major hill masses and a large number of minor. isolated hills. The mountains are surrounded by pediments and a gently undulating pediplain with soils varying from coarse. gravelly clays to dark grey and black cracking clays. the socalled ''black cotton soils," and alluvial soils. These together make up around 45 per cent of the area, and the uncultivable rocky jebels constitute around 23 per cent.
The western part of the province, Meseriya, is, in terms of the land systems encountered, very similar to the adjacent parts of Southern Darfur. It is made up largely of sand sheet (goz) and dunes, and in the small farm surplus would be insufficient to cover overhead costs. Iet alone to generate returns to offset capital costs. The project has an adverse impact on the Sudan's balance of payments. If local and foreign transactions are weighed to reflect the scarcity of foreign exchange, the economic viability is very negative.
But for pressing political and social reasons, projects of this type seem to have justification as long as suitable alternatives cannot be found. Keeping people in such areas occupied with subsidized employment may justify the high cost to the society as long as the project is used mainly to bridge a time gap until more productive employment can be created in other sectors. the south, fine alluvial deposits derived from the sand and the mountains. A belt of regebas-broad meandering channels and oxhows, lakes and depressions with spinal water courses, where water stands during and for some time after the rains-is found in the extreme southwest corner. The light sandy goz soils, which are excessively well-drained, make up around 32 per cent of the area.
The province lies between the 450 mm and 850mm mean annual isohyets with a rainy season which extends between the end of May and early June. up to the first half of October. The rainfall and the duration of the rainy season increases from north to south. During the recent drought (1968-72) in the Sahel zone, precipitation in the area fell 1020 per cent below the 30-year average (1941-70). However. the incidence of the drought was very variable, with central and eastern Meseriya recording above-average rainfall, while in the Nuba Mountains rainfall was 1 3-14 per cent below average.
The entire area falls into the low-rainfall woodland savanna formation type of natural vegetation. with the major local variations reflecting clay or sand soil types. The region is within the limits in which rain-fed agriculture is feasible.
With 7-8 months of the year without rainfall, perennial sources of water for human and livestock consumption are extremely important. In Meseriya, there are very few naturally occurring perennial water sources, being limited to the stretches of Bahr el Arab below Abyei. Lake Keilak, and possibly some of the larger regebas. Shallow clay basins and some low-yielding. shallow well fields are used to exploit the sub-surface water to be found in the course of Wadi el Ghalla. In the Nuba Mountains, some sub-surface storage from the intermittently flowing streams provides water from pools and. late in the dry season, from shallow, hand-dug depressions (mashush) in the stream beds. Also, in the coarse deposits surrounding the jebels. there are deep wells, often tapping fissures in the basement bedrock.
Undoubtedly, the most important change brought about in the economy and ecology of the province has been effected through the provision of new sources of perennial water supply through the construction of deep tube wells and hafirs. The first tube wells were sunk in 1927-28. but the major expansion came in 1967-72 during the "Anti-Thirst Campaign." During this period the number of wells in the west increased fourfold, with many of them in Meseriya. The bores generally tap the Nubian or Um Ruwaba aquifers or, occasionally, the weathered zone of the basement complex. The bores are often up to 200 meters deep, with diesel pumps supplying water for human beings and livestock through water yards at a charge of £S 0.002 per four-gallon tin.
Hafirs are simple artificial reservoirs into which water is channelled and stored. The first machine-excavated reservoirs in Kordofan were brought into use in 1947 in the Nuba Mountains and Tegale. often located on the flood plain of the khors in order to be filled during the rains. Water is provided free for human and livestock consumption. Provision is made for water to be drawn through extraction wells, but in many cases these are not operational and all users, including cattle. must enter the hafir to draw water, so that it is often of very poor quality.
The main reason for the failure of the ranches was the location of ranch blocks on major and minor migration routes of the pastoralists, enclosing considerable areas of existing cultivation and areas over which both sedentary and migratory populations recognized rights. All parties concerned strongly asserted their rights to cultivate and graze, and cultivation inside the ranches increased rapidly, defended by strong thorn fences. In addition. the carrying capacity of the range in the area was too low to support the proposed number of livestock on year-round occupancy, and the production of meat and milk would not have been sufficient even to cover costs of operation.
Livestock marketing is either controlled by rural councils, where sales are registered and taxed by clerks. or handled by a large number of smaller markets operated by individuals, often merchants who buy the right to collect sales taxes. A complex system of merchants, agents, traders. intermediaries, and tribal guarantors, held together by close financial and personal relationships, perform the purchase movement. and sale of livestock. Marketing is highly seasonal, determined by the periods when livestock is in areas accessible to merchants and when movement is possible. All cattle and the majority of the sheep are trekked to the main consumer markets and the Gezira area, or to the export quarantine in Khartoum North. During the dry season, trekking involves heavy mortalities and weight losses, especially in livestock coming from the western areas. The capacity for moving stock by rail is very limited and the service unreliable.
The imperfections in the marketing system, including the often permissive link between marketing and private credit, are difficult to remove. However, if farmers are to respond to the opportunities for increased productivity and to invest in agriculture, they must receive a larger share of the final market value of their produce (for instance, through central purchasing of livestock and institutional credit).
The only reliable estimates of livestock population have been made by the aerial Pilot Livestock Census carried out in Southern Kordofan in 1975:
|(in millions)||cattle 1.97||goats 0.51|
|sheep 1.07||camels 0.08|
Heavy concentrations of cattle were observed particularly in the alluvial Bahr el Arab dry season areas, well field sites, and around the alluvial valleys in the eastern parts of the Nuba Mountains. Cattle were primarily the indigenous Baggara (beef type), but in the eastern parts they were the Kenana (milk breed). In the Nuba Mountains there are still the small Nuba cattle which are resistant to trypanosomiasis.
The traditional pastoral economy of the province is managed on both sedentary and migratory systems. The Nuba and settled elements in the Baggara tribes manage their herds in the context of settled agriculture, involving the stock in only short distance migrations. Only a small part of the household labour is committed to herding and movement of stock. The true migratory pastoralists move southwards to perennial water supplies and pasture during the dry season and retreat northwards to the rainy season pastures, avoiding the mud and biting flies. The productivity of livestock is very low, particularly amongst the sedentary herds. Average commercial takeoff rates are on the order of 5 per cent for cattle and 15 per cent for sheep. The main reason for the low productivity is the very low level of nutrition, with animals receiving at or below maintenance feed requirements for up to eight months of the year. The main reason for this in turn has been the expansion of livestock numbers beyond the sustained carrying capacity of the range, which itself is shrinking as a result of over-grazing and expansion of cultivation.
The Veterinary Department tries to control diseases, especially rinderpest, C.B.B.P., anthrax, blackquarter, and H.S.C. There are veterinary hospitals, dispensaries, mobile clinics, and doctors in the area. There the efforts are entirely focused on animal health and, in particular, on seasonal vaccination campaigns. The result has been an explosion in the number of animals. However, many nomads still hesitate to have their animals vaccinated if there is not an acute danger. Vaccinations against rinderpest are free of charge, while all others have to be paid for. The fees are collected indirectly through the tax payment per head of livestock. The per-head basis of this tax payment hinders any effective extension service, as the livestock owner is not willing to reveal the number of cattle he owns, nor to discuss their performance.
The project did not reach its objectives. The settling of nomads and supplying of milk to the factory ceased. and from 1975 the programme has been reduced to essentially service provision on just four ranch areas. Apparently the areas for the project were not selected carefully enough so as not to conflict with other tribes demanding traditional rights of grazing and cultivation during the rainy season.
Major shortcomings are reported to be: low intensity of communication between management and field staff, lack of transport, insufficient finances, and absence of co-ordination between different governmental departments. Local people were not involved sufficiently in planning and implementation to accumulate enough interest. The staff showed the usual problems-shortage of qualified cadre, quick transfer. lack of adequate housing, etc. The entire exercise underlines the potential areas of conflict between cultivators and pastoralists and the difficulties of consultation between the local population and the administration in remote areas.
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.
The specific objectives of the scheme were set out in unpublished government documents prepared by the Rural Development Department between 1969 and 1975 as follows:
a) well-planned utilization of grazing lands for development;
b) establishment of an economic basis for agricultural production in the grazing lands;
c) settlement of nomads to enable other government departments to offer services such as health, education, etc.;
d) establishment of a well-planned water distribution system.
The Sudanese Government proposed the Gerih el Sarha Settlement Scheme (a reservation of 200 km² between long. 27°- 34° and lat. 14°-12° in northwestern Kordofan in the Kababish Rural Council) in an attempt to maintain vegetation cover and to improve grazing land by controlling the usage of the land.
The planners suggested the formation of a cooperative society consisting of
50 members only (each family considered as a member). The only condition for
membership should be the payment of a share of £S 50. Reasons given for the
formation of such a society and its goals were as follows.
a) The co-operative would provide marketing facilities to assist the peasant in his efforts to dispose of his production; it would develop organizations to supply members with household and consumer goods of good quality and at reasonable prices.
b) The government can provide certain facilities to co-operative societies which it cannot to individuals, e.g., tax concessions, and loan and bank facilities at low interest rates.
c) A model village was to be constructed inside the enclosed rectangular area in which the members of the co-operative society would have to reside.
d) Three water yards, each consisting of a number of watering centres. were to be established with the objective of making the grazing radius from each water point only 4 km. At each of these water yards a fruit and vegetable garden was to be established.
e) Milk, wool, and camel hair were to be the livestock products. The milk was to be processed into cheese; the wool and camel hair was to be used to develop local craftmanship.
3.6.1 Work Accomplished (1969-1975)
The work programme was started in 1969. The first phase was started by demarcating and clearing the entire boundaries of the project area. Then the boundaries were dry-hedged. The area was divided into the 50 paddocks provided for in the targets of the scheme. At the same time. work started on the contour maps and the vegetational maps for each paddock.
In October 1969 a meeting was held at Umbadier to discuss the membership and the establishment of the cooperative society. The co-operative society was then established. It consisted of 50 members. The members of the group were those who had the desire to settle and to participate, and who were able to pay the share (£S 50 each).
Two mobile clinics were brought into the area, one for human use and the other for veterinary use. The members of the co-operative society planned to build stationary clinics on a self-help basis. There are no schools at Gerih el Sarha. Educational facilities are at Umbadier, the Hamrat el Weiz and El Obeid primary schools.
The optimum animal unit per sq. km was determined by its carrying capacity. The grazing area was marked accordingly. cleaned, and fenced while the inner and the outer firelines were opened. in 1971 /72, surveys were carried out to estimate the carrying capacity of the area to avoid overgrazing. As a result of these studies, the carrying capacity was doubled, mainly due to the use of rotation in grazing. In addition, these studies helped a great deal in making useful suggestions for improvement of grazing areas elsewhere and in the introduction of new types of vegetation in the scheme area.
The multi-purpose co-operative society at Gerih el Sarha. which was officially registered in 1970, helped the members to make real use of the project. The enrolment fee of the 50 members represents the original capital for the society, but in addition to this. the penalties for animal owners when they allow their animals to enter the project area is another source of capital for the society. The original capital was used to finance a grocery, a poultry unit. contributions towards a vegetable farm, contributions towards provision of first aid and medical facilities, wages for three security officers, and contributions towards the provision of spare parts for the tractor and oil for the water pumps.
To settle the Kawahla the camel nomads of the western Sudan, was the main objective of the scheme. The carrying capacity of the enclosed area will never permit more than 50 families, as estimated by the planners. The 50 families now form the members of the co-operative society and are the only ones to enjoy the benefits of the scheme. Up till 1975, there were 38 families who were already settled in the model village inside the scheme enclosure: the rest were still in their traditional tents scattered outside the project area.
3.6.2 Data Collection
There were no data available on which to base plans. The data on water sources were inadequate. The settlement project at Gerih el Sarha was carried out without the essential data on the socio-economic and political situations. But it seems that the overwhelming majority of the population stood with the scheme. Included are the poverty-stricken people who eke out a living from unreliable agricultural practices on small patches of land with low yield. They are always on the look-out for jobs and serve as a reliable pool of labour. To these people. the scheme is a generous unexpected gift as long as it solves their problem of employment (two hundred of them were employed in clearing the firelines in 1969). These people expressed their admiration and delight on hearing about the scheme and their desire to participate in it. but they cannot pay the fifty pounds in a lump sum.
The second group is the cultured or the enlightened group who command a better view of their economy, and who have come to understand that the traditional pattern does not guarantee them full utilization of their animal resources, that they must think of accepting advice to maximize the products of their livestock to create a cash economy resting on broader bases and to assure them full utilization of their potentials.
Another enthusiastic group supports the scheme on the grounds that the scheme area, or the Kawahla tribal land, will be supplied with water, health, and educational facilities, or other forms of public services such as transportation or marketing facilities.
The fourth supporting group includes those who cannot put up with the tiresome task of loading and unloading the burden animals in the distasteful process of roaming from place to place after water and pasture. These people advocated the idea of the project as long as it promised them settlement and a relief from the pains of nomadism.
3.6.3 The Opposing Groups
Of those opposed to the scheme, the first group is composed of people who think that it is an intelligence device of the government to numerate and tax their herds; they abhor it.
The second group includes those who reject the scheme just because they love nomadism; they despise settlement in a village and are reluctant or unwilling to part with their traditional way of living. They look down upon settlers and they are opposed to living in a dark, one-door cottage.
The third group opposes the idea because the scheme area is a common grazing ground for their herds. Once the land is fenced and reserved for the ranch and for the members of the co-operative society only, they will be losing an important part of their pasture.
The last group opposes the project mainly because they think such a scheme will result in the breaking down of the tribe and the tribal structure; the tribe is the core of these people's thinking.
3.6.4 Causes of Failure
In the first phase the project was administered from Khartoum. The remoteness of the scheme area and the poor network of communications resulted in a serious administrative problem. Later, the centre was moved from Khartoum to El Obeid. the capital of Northern Kordofan.
The project area is 250 miles from El Obeid and only 147 miles from El Fasher (the capital of Northern Darfur). The roads between El Obeid and the project area are only suitable for high-speed travel in the dry season. while in rainy conditions they are impassable and the only road is through the province of Northern Darfur, a 570-mile route! There is a network of better roads between El Fasher and the Kawahla tribal land. It is impossible to administer the scheme from that distance. If the administrative centre were changed to El Fasher, it would be easier for transportation and communication and would save effort, time, and expense. The shortage of transportation affected the success of the project. It is interesting to know that in 1970/71 the transportation budget amounted to zero! There are no maintenance centres nearby and maintenance therefore presents a problem.
In the case of Gerih el Sarha, the planners rightly thought that if all
animals were allowed to graze inside the scheme. over-grazing would result. This
would defeat one major goal-to restore the carrying capacity to its original
level or even increase it by introducing new plants that have more nutritive
values. To solve this problem. it was recommended that only 1,000 animal units
should enter the scheme during the dry season; the rest would have to graze
outside. During the wet season, however, all animals should graze outside in
order to save the grass inside for use during the dry season. But this meant
1) The settlement idea would be destroyed. since the nomadic movement would continue.
2) The scheme would serve as a fattening place for a selected number of animals only.
3) While the animals of non-members would be denied entry into the scheme, they would have to share wet season grazing outside the scheme with the preferred members' animals.
The following calculation makes the problem quite clear.
a) Fifty families at Gerih el Sarha own 1 3,000 animal units-260 for each
b) The total carrying capacity of the scheme is thought to be 1,000 units per 100 km².
c) To allow all livestock of the 50 families into the scheme, the area would have to be enlarged to 1,300 km².
Such enlargement seems to be impossible without clashing with the interests of other Kababish nomads, who number in total 28,000 families and have only 48,000 km². They would need 62,800 km² if the scheme's carrying capacity of ten animal units per km² is used. On the strength of this vast difference between the total safe limit of carrying capacity of any of the nomadic regions and the total animal units owned by the nomadic population of a specific region, Khogali concludes that the approach to settlement should not be a direct one because this is usually expensive and yields poor results. as seen at Gerih el Sarha. A better approach is through the provision of services and infrastructure. If water points, schools. dispensaries. and market centres are opened, then the nomads will try to make use of them and gradually change their pattern of movements from nomadic to transhumant.
Wagialla adds one additional point: to maintain an optimal number of animals on the land, a fence is of prime importance and should be strong enough to prevent free movement of animals in and out of the area. The hedge which is being used for this purpose needs constant maintenance and there are insufficient watchmen to see to this. Consequently. there are frequent gaps and animals can roam freely. It has been suggested that the fence should be barbed wire but it is doubtful whether the scheme can afford this.
3.6.5 The Kababish-Kawahla Tribal Conflicts
Conflicts between nomadic tribes are always connected with pasture and water, but in the case of these two tribes there are more reasons. The origin of political conflict between the two groups in the area lies partly in the fact that British administrators in the Sudan tried for a long period of time to feed and strengthen the Kababish power to take care of British administration interests in western Kordofan. As the Kawahla tribe supported El Mahadi's revolution, the British administrators tried to suppress them. The Kawahla revolted against this suppression in 191 3, the result being that their leader was replaced by Ahmed Abdul Gadier el Eiser.
In 1925 the unfriendly atmosphere between the two tribes nearly led to war over the Umgawzien grazing area. Negotiations were conducted by a number of neighbouring tribes which resulted in a peaceful compromise. Late in 1969 a Presidential Act was passed to dissolve the native tribal administrative system, so that the Kawahla were able to gain their independence and their own identity. They are no longer under the supervision and control of the Kababish.
In the early discussions of the Gerih el Sarha scheme, Syed Hamed el Toum, who is Kababishi by birth, and who was the regional manager of Kordofan Province, stated his opposition to the scheme because he held that it had been designed for the exclusive benefit of the Kawahla and not the Kababish. Syed Hamed el Toum suggested that Um Endira in the Kababish tribal land was a suitable area for such a scheme, and that it was in even greater need of improvement of its grazing land.
He had, however. raised the very important point that the Gerih el Sarha area is a common grazing area for many nomadic tribes. including the Kababish and the Kawahla, where they gathered seasonally in summer. He anticipated the tribal conflicts which might arise. However, he was overruled by the initiator of the project and the plan of operation was passed.
Later on, the Kababish started to declare their opposition to the scheme and to stand as a real obstacle to its progress. In 1972 they set fire to a large portion of the grazing area inside the Kawahla enclosure. On another occasion they put stones into the well pipes to damage them and to prevent water from passing. Frequently, they brought their cattle to graze across the boundaries of the scheme against the watchmen's will.
A committee was elected to discuss the situation at Gerih el Sarha and to find out if solutions were possible.
The committee at last came to an agreement:
a) The water points outside the project boundaries are for common use and the
water is to be equally distributed.
b) An official from the Rural Water Corporation has to be posted at each water point to supervise water distribution.
c) The situation necessitates a police station at Gerih el Sarha to control tribal conflicts and to help in finding solutions.
d) To cool down the conflict, ten Kababish families should join the scheme as full participant members with equal rights with the Kawahla tribe.
e) The number of watchmen (boundary keepers) around the boundaries should be increased to control the free movement of cattle across the boundaries.
f) No further open utilization of the grazing area should be allowed. Rights are reserved only to those who are officially registered in the co-operative society; even they must limit the numbers of their cattle in line with the stated carrying capacity of the land.
g) The committee suggested that a meeting be held between the local administrators and the technical staff of Kordofan Province together with the technical staff of Darfur Province. The aim should be to find suitable grazing land for the benefit of the Kababish in the dry season, when there is a scarcity of water and shortage of grazing lands which results in a seasonal overlap of grazing zones. This would minimize the possibility of future conflicts.
h) To put an end to the latent civil war in the area, three similar projects should be established in the Kababish tribal land. These proposed projects have to be subjected to pre-studies carried out by the staff of the Rural Development Department together with the local tribal leaders of the area.
3.6.6 Local Involvement
The scheme of Gerih el Sarha worked through local leaders, whose usual reaction. if they are ignored. is to oppose government schemes. A lack of cooperation by leaders can be almost as harmful to a project's success as their open opposition.
When there is an educated local leader who is also reliable, he may be a very significant person for implementing new ideas. The local innovators are most capable of closing the gap between the higher officials and the community and are in a very favourable position to put information into the informal communication network. At Gerih el Sarha, the informal authority of the Nazir is now decreasing. Having been a legitimator to his group, he is now only a communicator, but still retains his symbolic status of prestige and respect.
The Gerih el Sarha scheme could have been considered a success if it had involved the people of the local community. We have already seen that membership was limited to 50 people who were able to pay the requisite 50 pounds. This inevitably meant the exclusion of the majority of the Kawahla population who did not have the necessary financial resources. The scheme worked totally for the benefit of those already most financially advantaged. i.e.. the Nazir's lineage.
Even those Kawahla who did join the scheme were not involved in ways which would have proved most successful. They were never consulted at the initial decision-making stages (only the Nazir himself was consulted). Consequently, many of them did not want to build their houses inside the model village. It seems that they did not understand the implications of the settlement plans.
If they had participated democratically in the decision-making phase, the reasons for the nomads' opposition would have been learned and could have modified the plans. Participation would have helped the local population to realize their problems. and how they could be solved. They would have understood the policy of planned change towards gradual settlement. Participation would also have helped to create the determination necessary to undertake additional improvements in the settlement project which would guarantee its future success. As it is, it is impossible to comment on whether the settlement will prove temporary or permanent.
The settlement scheme was planned and implemented without any collection of socio-economic, political, or scientific data and showed a tack of co-ordination between government departments responsible for carrying out development schemes and research centres. These gaps could be due to a) a lack of knowledge about the importance of vital data as a prerequisite to planning, b) the fact that agencies may be unwilling for the success of their project to depend upon the assistance of other agencies or sections, c) a lack of funds, d) sheer haste, or e) a lack of coordination methods.
Whatever the reasons, the fact is that comprehensive and factual knowledge of the rural environment within which the developmental project is to operate must be carefully obtained in order to provide a sound base for planned change. It is stressed that rural development planning must be based upon facts and not upon opinions.
3.6.7 Wider Issues of Nomads' Settlement
As long as nomadism is both a way of utilizing resources and a way of life, the question of settling nomads has always to take into account solutions for both problem areas. Should the nomads be settled in order to improve upon the way they use their resources ? Khogali feels that this is necessary because the application of modern technology needs a mininum level of education and this is not possible with nomadism. Counter-arguments that the provision of hafirs and bore-holes is more a technical matter and could alone improve the use of grassland are not accepted by this author. He views the problem as being far bigger. For him it is the question of conserving the water resources and making efficient use of every drop of water for the use of man, animals. and useful plants-and this needs a certain level of education. as does the maintenance of the constructed water sources. A further point by Khogali: the conservation and efficient use of water cannot be done under the present communal ownership of land, which is an integral part of nomadism. A sense of personal possession should develop in relation to land so that each family becomes responsible for maintaining its land resources.
Should the nomads be settled to change their way of life ? The answer to this question is much more complex and depends entirely on the goals somebody has. In addition. this question is apparently not answerable in a static way, because the case of the Sudan shows that there have been time periods of increasing and decreasing numbers of nomads, depending on economic or political conditions (for example, the defeat of the Mahdiya in 1&98) which forced nomads to settle on the one hand. or the gradual build-up of great herds that resulted in movement as nomads again on the other. In addition. there have been examples where opportunities to earn additional income through crop production have been used by the nomads in quite different ways to change their life style. The Gezira Scheme, with comparatively high returns from cotton. together with the assured supply of aura, attracted many in the nomadic population. and these people settled in permanent villages, as did most of the nomads of the White Nile region. The Gash Scheme, however, where cotton started in 1924, has not attracted the Halendowa nomads although they owned about 65-70 per cent of all the tenancies of the Gash
Delta. The main reason for this, Khogali feels, were the consistent low annual returns from crop production at that scheme.
Planners of different development programmes in the Sudan have frequently stated that settlement of nomads is desirable to achieve better utilization of natural and human resources, to save the grazing potential from destruction due to overstocking. and to upgrade the nomads to citizens who enjoy the benefits of education, health, and other services. Khogali supports this view and says that many nomads are not against the idea of settlement as such. There are many examples from the semidesert and savanna region that nomads settled willingly when they were sufficiently motivated to do so. What the nomads object to is being turned into settled cultivators without animals. This is because of two reasons: (1 ) the traditional cultivators, as seen by the nomads, are not better off economically than the nomads, and (2) the raising of animals is highly rated all over the Sudan. Livestock act as a safety valve against frequent crop failure due to natural causes and against the fall of prices of sale products. An added factor in the case of the nomads is that livestock are the form of wealth which they know best and from which they draw their power and prestige.
The Gerih el Sarha Scheme started in 1969: by 1972. 18 families had built houses and resided as "semisettlers." By 1975. 38 families were settled and they exhausted the total carrying capacity at that time. Fifty projected families are obviously too many. The project work was hampered by a number of organizational and acceptance problems. The administrative centre of the project was too far away to guarantee an efficient management. Shortage of transport and frequent staff changes occurred. The duties were carried out without the necessary integration and co-ordination between the different governmental departments.
The settlers had difficulties in adjusting to their new status as owners of land and to the new pattern of social relationships. The nomad was, in the past, able to avoid control by the central government because he was isolated and highly mobile. He had received orders from the sheikh; in the project he deals directly with governmental local personnel. In the past, the tribal chiefs served as an informal law court, as social security, and as saving and credit institutions. The new institututional framework that will substitute for the former tribal organization has not been established sufficiently to allow the conclusion that this settlement scheme has successfully integrated the nomads into the mainstream of development of the region.
The Agadi State Farm is one instrument to develop the so-far unused, semi-arid land areas in the Blue Nile region. It is part of the Damazin area and has cracking clay soils which are considered to be arable only through mechanization. A large-scale public enterprise, the Agadi State Farm is expected to contribute a considerable surplus of export and domestic crops, to provide employment, and to create a nucleus of economic activities in a thinly populated area. The direct control of production on the state farm, compared with private schemes, should result in a higher level of technical achievement. Rotational practices have to be sound in order to avoid environmental damages; aura should alternate with sesame, and cotton should alternate with fallow. The state farm should undertake large-scale experiments and trials to gain results which could also be applied to private farms. The use of new varieties and inputs as well as the application of modern methods of land preparation should be tested. Through data collection, contributions should be made to determine what alternative strategies are available to the principle of profit maximization under conditions of high uncertainty-for example, loss avoidance, capacity use of invested capital equipment. etc.
The Agadi State Farm makes up the southern part of the Agadi West area demarcated for mechanized farming. To the north of the farm, adjacent to it, are the Agadi West private mechanized schemes. The farm has been allotted 210,000 feddans, not all of which are yet cleared. It is by far the largest state farm in the Sudan.
The development of the farm has been financed by a loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Social and Economic Development-totalling 1.6 million Kuwaiti dinars agreed upon in 1970. The loan is broken down into its constituent items in Table 18. The repayment period set was 25 years with a grace period until 1 January 1977 for repayment of the first installment. The rate of interest is 3 per cent per annum.
The headquarters and main camp of the farm are situated at the edge of the village at Jebel Agadi.
There are the wooden houses and grass huts to house the farm staff, and large steel-framed machinery sheds, stores, and workshops. There are also two grain silos along with three others elsewhere on the farm. and six traditional matmurrahs (storage pits dug out of the clay soil). At the edge of the camp area is an army post with a dozen or so soldiers whose job is to guard the farm and the private schemes and to prevent trespassing nomads.
Of the 21 0,000 feddans allotted to the farm, 120,000 had already been cleared by last season (1974/75), the fourth season of operations on the farm. This year (1975/76), the job of clearing a further 25.000 feddans was tendered to five contractors for manual clearing at the rate of £S 4.86 per feddan cleared. By July 1975, however. when clearance was supposed to have been completed, only 6,000 feddans were ready, partly because of payment problems with the contractors. In any year, only part of the area cleared is actually cultivated, the rest being left fallow. The area cultivated has increased from about 12,000 feddans in 1971/72 to about 64,000 feddans in 1974/75. For the first two seasons, only sesame and aura were grown on the farm, but in 1973/74 American cotton was introduced into the rotation.
TABLE 17. State Farms in the Sudan-Areas, Allotted
|State Farm||Area Allotted |
|Agadi (Blue Nile)||210 000|
|Simsim (Kassala)||70 000|
|Guzrum (Upper Nile)||30 000|
|Habila (South Kordofan)||30 000|
|Nertiti (South Darfur)||10 000|
|Umm Ajaj (South Darfur)||60 000|
Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 27.
TABLE 18. Agadi State Farm-Details of Kuwaiti Loan
|Item Financed||Kuwaiti Dinarsa|
|Land clearance equipment||95 000|
|Other land clearance costs||200 000|
|Agricultural machinery||635 000|
|Cars, lorries, tractors. etc.||60 000|
|Material for sheds and stores||190 000|
|Workshop equipment||25 000|
|Spare parts||158 000|
|Camp buildings, R. T. survey equipment||7 000|
|Study of administration system||100 000|
|Reserve fund||130 000|
|TOTAL LOAN||1 600 000|
Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 28.
a. The exchange rate on 31 Jan. 1972 was 1 Kuwaiti diner = £0.85715 sterling. making the loan equivalent to f 1.37 million sterling.
TABLE 19. Agadi State Farm-Budgeted and Actual Investment Expenditures
|1.Tree clearance||250 000||150 000||200 000||80 793||200 000||153|
|2.Heavy machinery||-||-||119 000||78 793||63 000||46 040|
|3.Agricultural tractors||80 000||373||56 000||37 273||86 000||43 353|
|4.Disc harrows||65 000||-||42000||71 590||42 000||915|
|6.Vehicles. lorries. etc.||27000||22024||142 500||31991||151600||8930|
|7.Trailers||3 500||4 400||2 400||-||8 000||158|
|8.Miscellaneous equipment||3 200||9 932||5000||1 293|
|9.Construction of stores. sheds. etc.||60 000||12 904||303 000||7 853||276 530||25 693|
|10.Equipment, stores. etc for workshops 13 000||2 056||40 100||11 156||38 800||4 485|
|12.Fuel and water tanks||27 000||1 713||45 000||-||40000||7 527|
|13.Various||5000||5 528||31 709||45 038||63 970||140|
Source: University of Leeds Report. p. 29.
a. The actual expenditures for the year 1973/74 did not include the last month. June (for which figures are not yet compiled). when a substantial part of payments are recorded. Figures for expenditures in 1973/74 therefore considerably under-estimate the actual expenditures.
Work began on establishing the farm in 1971; Table 19 compares the actual and budgeted investment expenditures in the first three years. The actual expenditures for 1973/74 have so far only been compiled up to May 1974 and so the figures are said to considerably under-estimate the actual annual expenditure. It is evident, however, that actual disbursements have lagged well behind the budgeted figures.
The machinery on the farm in December 1974 is listed in Table 20. Since that date, 15 more CKM4 harvesters and 35 more Leyland tractors have been acquired in anticipation of an extra 25,000 feddans being cultivated. As this target has not been met, not all of the extra machines are necessary. Although it is reported that at any one time up to 15 per cent of the tractors and combines will be under repair, the number of machines seems high relative to the cropped area.
The farm is under the direction of the farm manager (the present manager is a graduate of the Faculty of Agriculture, Khartoum University, who has also received post-graduate training abroad) responsible to the regional manager of the MFC at Damazin. The journey to Damazin, during the dry season, takes a little over half an hour and there is a fairly regular flow of traffic between the farm and Damazin to maintain contact (there is no telephone link). Assisting the manager in the direction of the farm are three agricultural production officers (who are young agricultural graduates) and seventeen local assistants, as well as a resident engineer, who is assisted by two technical-school graduates.
TABLE 20. Agadi State Farm-Machinery Available 1974/75
|D.7 Caterpillar tractors||1|
|D.8 Caterpillar tractors||2|
|Steyr articulated lorries||2|
|Wide-level disc harrows||112|
|Wheeled tractors (mostly Leyland)||104|
|CKM4 (Russian) combine harvesters||35|
Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 30.
The planned staffing is one local assistant to each of the 5,000 feddan units into which the farm is divided, with a graduate officer to every ten units or 50,000 feddans. The total permanent staff including mechanics, drivers, and watchmen is around 160. In addition, extra tractor drivers are recruited on a seasonal basis for crop sowing and for the aura harvest, while large numbers of casual workers are employed for weeding and harvesting sesame and aura and for picking cotton.
The local assistants are young men with secondary education but without professional training. They have an important function in supervising operations on their units, where they live with the tractor drivers and other staff in simple accommodations during the crop season.
Land preparation and sowing begin with the first rains, with sesame and cotton sown before aura. Last season. the sowing dates for those units sown with sesame extended from 4 to 16 July. and for cotton from 16 July to 3 August. On some units aura sowing began as early as 21 July. but on others it continued through till 8 September. Land preparation may involve one or two discings according to the weed growth (and to whether the unit was in fallow the previous season). and possibly some hand labour to uproot bushes. Cotton seeds are broadcast by hand by men sitting astride the wide level discs. Sesame and aura seeds are sown mechanically using an adapted seed box. Last season 5.937 feddans were sown with the Wad Yabis (non-combinable) variety of aura. and 42,033 feddans with the Tozi Umm Binein (combinable) variety. The Umm Binein seed was obtained from the Tozi Seed Propagation Centre, and the Wad Yabis was retained from the previous season. as was the sesame seed.
The preparation and sowing period is an extremely hectic one for the farm staff, who spend much of the time on the units because of the difficulty in travelling around the farm after the rains have begun. As on the private schemes, work continues at night on a shift basis.
Weeding is done manually, with cotton being weeded twice. The Umm Binein variety of aura is said to to need little weeding because of the relatively high seed rate applied. 1 6 rotls (a rotl is approximately a pound) as compared with 4 for Wad Yabis. The labour for weeding either comes from the villages in the immediate area or else from the Kurmuk and Geissan areas further south.
The 1974 cotton crop was sprayed by air with Endosulfan at the rate of 1 gallon per 4 feddans.
The cost of application was £S 0.30 per feddan (each time)-11,1 30 feddans were sown with cotton- and the total cost of the operation, including the cost of the chemicals. appears in the accounts as £S 1 3,220. In addition, part of the aura crop was also sprayed, at a total cost of £S 1,01 5.
Sesame is cut and threshed by hand, with harvesting beginning in early November. Cotton picking begins around 1 December. Once again, the labour supply for the sesame harvest is partly local but mainly from the Kurmuk and Geissan districts. The cotton pickers (1,880 were employed at the peak of the 1974/75 season) are drawn mainly from the area around Tendelti in Kordofan, about 400 km distant. The farm, like many of the private schemes. sends lorries to the labour source areas. It is interesting to note that these workers found picking on the state farm more remunerative than in the Gezira. For cotton picking. the workers bring their families and all work in the fields. whereas for the other operations the work force is an entirely male one. The rates paid for weeding the 1974/75 crops varied from about 40 pts (piastres) per feddan for sesame, between 40 and 50 pts for aura, to about 75 pts per feddan for each weeding of the cotton crop. For sesame cutting. the rate was between 50 pts and 80 pts per hilla with usually 4 to 5 hillas per feddan. The sesame was threshed at 25 pts per sack.
The rate paid for picking cotton was 45 pts per small kantar, with an extra payment for filling the sacks. In addition to their cash remuneration. all casual workers are provided with food (aura, oil, fish, etc.) and simple huts for accommodation. The rates were in line with those on the private schemes.
The aura harvest begins in January and continues till March. The Wad Yabis aura variety was cut by hand in 1975, but so were several thousand feddans of the combinable Umm Binein variety. All the aura is threshed by combine harvester.
Table 21 shows the areas sown with the different crops since the farm was opened, together with production and computed yields per feddan. Considerable variation in the year-to-year yields of all the crops is apparent.
The state farm revenue is derived mainly from crop sales but in 1974 included additional income from contract harvesting. After the farm aura harvesting was completed, combines were sent to the Gezira for the wheat harvest and earned an additional revenue of £S 49,000 for the farm.
Details of aura crop sales for the 1974/75 season are given in Table 22. More than half the crop was sold by tender to a Khartoum merchant at a price of £S 2.31 a sack by the farm. This is relatively low compared with prices obtained on the adjacent private schemes as recorded in the survey, but probably reflects the predominance of combinable varieties. The sesame crop was also sold by tender at £S 5.50 per kantar, producing a revenue of £S 72,534. Total revenue from aura sales stood at £S 366,288.
TABLE 21. Agadi State Farm-Crop Areas, Production, and Yields since Opening
|production (kantars)||4 590||9 010||10 490||13130|
|area (feddans)||1 000||2 600||5 000||4 100|
|production (sacks)||54 400||135 000||98 502||153 000|
|area (feddans)||11 184||54000||47 740||47 970|
|production (small kantars)||-||-||15 518||44 950|
|area (feddans)||-||_||1 452||11 130|
Source: University of Leeds Report. D 32.
Details of expenditure during the whole of the 1974/ 75 financial year are not available for the completion of this report, but figures have been obtained for the expenditures in the period from July 1974 to March 1975 inclusive. These include much of the farm expenditure but are of course incomplete and therefore of relatively little value, although it is of interest to examine their composition. The main items are staff salaries and allowances, making up 14 per cent of the partial total; wages and food to seasonal labour, 37 per cent: machinery, 23 per cent: and cars, 16 per cent. This leaves 10 per cent for seeds, sprays, and sundries. The high percentage of costs on cars reflects the large amount of travelling involved in running such a large farm.
The performance of the Agadi State Farm can be rated above the average of the adjacent private schemes. The large input of investment and qualified staff made it possible to follow modern management systems. yielding 322 kg per feddan of aura, 144 kg of sesame, and 181 kg of cotton. The farm made substantial profits during the last years, but the question of the permanence of crop production cannot be answered so far. The observation of more years with different rain-fall quantities and patterns is necessary to estimate the average yield potential of the area. farming practices being unchanged.
Recruitment and the management of a large number of seasonal labourers presents considerable difficulties. and with access to governmental funds, the incentive is high to mechanize production as fully as possible: capital invested per feddan is higher than on private schemes. This has to be counted as a cost to the economy against the benefits the country receives from the export of cotton because nearly all of the capital investment and oil has to be bought with foreign currency.
TABLE 22. Agadi State Farm-Disposal of the 1974/75 Dura Crop
|Number of Sacksa||Destination||Price per Sack (£S)|
|5 000||Held in farm silos||-|
|5 000||Food for farm labour||-|
|2 000||Tozi propagation farm||-|
|40 000||Suki irrigation scheme||3.25|
|12000||Blue Nile Province||2.31|
Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 33.
a.One sack weighs approximately 100 kilograms
The Gedaref Dura Schemes were designed during the decade of 1960-70 to use the so far unemployed land resources for cultivation of aura (sorghum) for domestic and export sales. Through credit facilities to private operators for bush clearance and land development, tractor and equipment purchases, and machinery repair, as well as through public investment in road construction and water supplies. it was hoped that the whole area could develop and thus contribute to a better supply of aura for the urban population and for an improved balance of payment situation. It was calculated that the foreign exchange requirements to import machines, equipment. fuel. etc would be much lower than the earnings which could be expected from the export to the world market. In this way, the necessary World Bank loan could be easily repaid. The employment component was expected to be low because of the high degree of mechanization necessary.
3.8.1 Production Aspects
The Gedaref Schemes have now been in operation for 10 to 15 years. A comparison of two studies (mentioned as major sources). nearly 10 years apart, shows changes of economic determinants with influence on costs and returns of the scheme owners. The two studies are quoted in some detail to provide insight into why such changes have influenced the scheme performances.
During the first ten years of aura cultivation in the Gedaref district. the total area planted varied greatly between 700,000 and 2,000,000 feddans due to natural and operational forces. The most popular varieties of aura grown were at first Feterite. Gedaref, Mugud. and Safra. Later another variety. Wad Yabis. predominated on the schemes, accounting for more than 90 per cent of the total area sown in 1974/75. All varieties are long-stalked and are unsuitable for combine harvesting but have grain characteristics acceptable to local consumers. The cultivated land is flat; the fields' preparation is only possible and sensible after the seasonal rains have started.
The mean area recorded as cultivated under one scheme was around 800 feddans. Some of the operators in the schemes were, for financial reasons, unable to clear their whole area of a "1,000 feddan scheme" during the first year after allocation. Quite a number were found to be still cultivating only a fraction of the area allotted even after three or four years. This certainly fed to an under-utilization of their expensive capital investment in machinery, equipment. etc. A scheme owner has to clear his fields of trees and other vegetation before he can commence cultivation. Clearing is most frequently done by manual labour, although crawler tractors are sometimes used. Often the clearance is undertaken by a contractor at a fixed rate with the labourers employed by him. Clearance costs varied widely from scheme to scheme. A number of factors were responsible for this, including the date of initial clearing, whether or not the full area has been cleared, and the density of tree cover.
The preparation for cultivation starts early in the season with the transport of fuel and grease to the schemes and the construction of huts for the lodging of the licensee and his staff. The first ploughing begins around 15 July and takes about ten days if it is not delayed by heavy showers. Under favourable conditions, a tractor can plough up to 100 feddans daily. During this period the seed is prepared and chemically treated with copper carbonate against the covered smut of sorghum. Usually a second ploughing is then needed and this is done combined with sowing (a seed drill is attached to the tractor). After the emergence of the plants, the weeding operation is begun. It usually takes 45 days for an average crop and requires about 300 labourers for a 1,000 feddan scheme.
3.8.2 Production Costs
Apart from tree clearance, scheme owners must also make a substantial investment in machinery. A tractor with a wide-level disc harrow and seedbox are normally regarded as essential items, while many scheme owners also possess a four-wheel-drive pickup truck, a lorry, and sometimes a combine harvester (used primarily as a stationary thresher).
Schemes which do not have a tractor hire them for discing and sowing; the charge for such services in 1974/75 was between £S 0.75 and £S 1.00 per feddan. Hiring was also resorted to on some of the other schemes. possibly because of tractor breakdowns. An owner who relies on hiring must of course wait until a tractor is available and this may well result in much delayed sowing dates.
The average initial investment in machinery was £S 3.391 per scheme but the variation is very wide, with some schemes (those without tractors) returning a zero investment. The figure of £S 3,391 is. of course, well below current replacement costs-a tractor and disc costing £S 2,500 in 1970 now costs over £S 4,000. The most popular make of tractor was Massey Ferguson (usually the MF 165 model). The age distribution of the tractors is between one and seven years with, for the most part. the original tractors still being used.
The annual cost of machinery depreciation has been calculated on a 25 per cent written-down basis, that is, taking the cost as 25 per cent of the previous year's depreciated value. This is thought likely to reflect the changing value of machinery as it ages better than straight line depreciation where the initial cost is divided by the number of years assumed for the life of the tractor. On the written-down basis, a tractor's value is never reduced to zero, but with a 25 per cent rate, its value in the eighth year will be only one-tenth of its initial cost. The average cost of machinery depreciation per scheme was £S 369.
Other fixed costs
The other fixed costs could be obtained from the reports only for the year 1974/75. Staff salaries represent the cost of employing a wakeel (foreman), guards, and storemen over the year, and tractor drivers and greasers during the season. The wakeel is usually paid £S 30 per month but is sometimes remunerated by a share of the profits, although the survey records did not indicate that this increased the total received. Guards, storemen. and greasers received between £S 10 and £S 15 per month. The rate for a tractor driver is £S 25 per month. Such a salary will attract good drivers and compensate them for the harsh conditions under which they perform their jobs. The Ministry of Agriculture has established a training institution at Wad el Huri to prepare people for driving and repairing tractors. These drivers are normally preferred by scheme operators and are paid higher salaries. The great difficulty in this is that they will be employed only for the short period of about three months, which reduces the interest of qualified drivers to work in the schemes if they find other alternatives.
Drinking water usually has to be transported to the schemes although there is sometimes a small hafir on the scheme. Transport may be undertaken with the scheme's tractor or lorry. but in some cases water is purchased from tankers. The average expenditure under this heading was £S 64 per scheme in 1974/75. The buildings on the schemes usually consist of a group of grass huts, and these require rebuilding or repair as necessary by local specialists. There is also need to replace hand tools used by the seasonal labourers. Costs under these two headings averaged £S 195 per scheme in the same year. A final fixed cost item is the payment of a land rent of 5 piastres per feddan which should be made to the government through the Mechanized Farming Corporation.
The average variable costs per feddan have risen steadily since the establishment of the first schemes. Despite some difficulties of comparison due to different methods used for data collection, Table 23 attempts to indicate the magnitude of increase of variable production costs. While on the average, for 1968/69, a variable cost figure of £S 3.36 per feddan can be assumed, for 1974/75 this figure is £S 5.53.
Labour costs and other variable inputs show increases between 1968/69 and 1974/75 of 50 to 200 per cent. This reflects price increases for production factors that can be seen in Sudan's economy in general: they are not characteristic for the Gedaref region only. But in connection with static or decreasing yields due to environmental reasons, the absolute level of production costs may soon become too high to allow any benefits in all operations. If expenditures increase further at this rate, they would have to be matched by either price increases for the crop or higher yields or reduced profit rates. The high element of gambling involved, while expecting windfall gains. may still attract a number of new operators to replace people who do not go back to their schemes after losing part of their invested capital. Further investigation is needed to determine whether or not substantial cost reductions are possible, for example through a change to combinable sorghum varieties with less labour demand, to offset the narrowing price-cost squeeze. If yields. for climatic reasons under rain-fed conditions, cannot be raised, or if the more intensive cultivation of sorghum would endanger the possibility of permanent production, then price increases or cost reductions are the only way out of this situation. While price questions will be discussed in section 3.8.3, below, another aspect of cost reduction should at least be mentioned here. It cannot be expected that the individual operator would benefit from a larger total area cultivated per scheme. It must be assumed that further economies of scale are quite difficult to obtain because of the high seasonally of land preparation and crop harvesting in a very short time period only. At least more substantial public investment in the physical infrastructure of the region would be needed to allow the operators a fast and flexible adjustment (transport, transfer of equipment and labour, etc.) to changing weather and operational conditions.
The other major items of variable costs, as seen in Table 23, are now discussed against this background. Seasonal labour, machinery work. and additional inputs are the most important items.
Labour costs and machine work account for more than half of the total variable costs. The seasonal labour (except drivers) is recruited as needed for weeding and cutting. while threshing is presently partly done by combine. The labourers in the schemes are locally recruited or come from the Kurmuk and Geissan districts further south and adjacent to the Ethiopian border. Scheme owners send their own or hired lorries to these districts to collect labourers. Recruitment is often done through the village sheikhs, to whom a commission is paid for each man recruited. Advances on the recruited man's wages may also be paid to the family left behind.
Payments to seasonal labourers are invariably on a piecework basis. Payment for weeding and cutting aura is by area. In addition to the cash payments, scheme owners also provide food (aura, oil, and fish) and some kind of shelter. The rates quoted in 1974/75 for weeding aura were in the range of £S 0.20 to £S 0.80 per feddan. and for cutting (involving the removal and collection of the heads) £S 0.70 to £S 1.60 per feddan. The wide ranges reflect both differences in the work involved (which is dependent on the weediness of the crop or its size at harvest) and the immediate bargaining strength of labourers and owners. The operators worry about the ever existing shortage of casual labour. This is ascribed to the rapid rate of development (both at Gedaref and Khashm el Girba) as well as to the competition with the large-scale irrigation schemes of Gezira and Rahad. Consequently, great interest was expressed in the possibilities of chemical weed control and combine harvesters as a means to reduce the demand for seasonal labour. But this will lead, without any doubt. to greater needs for foreign exchange and should be calculated carefully against the benefits to be expected.
The cost of fuel for tractors and pickups is a considerable item. The average figure in 1974/75 of £S 601 per scheme is for schemes without lorries; including the lorries it gives an average of £S 785 per scheme, but the former figure would seem more appropriate in considering the agricultural costs. Even at £S 601 per scheme, the figure is high compared with estimates of a maximum of £S 500 per scheme quoted by the MFC, especially when it is remembered that nearly a quarter of these schemes did not have their own tractor. The cost represents the use of about 1,450 gallons of fuel at the official price. It is known that with fuel shortages owners are often prepared to pay black-market prices. Fuel is purchased in fourgallon tins and stocked, if possible, for the beginning of the season. and so discrepancies could occur between the amounts purchased and those actually used.
TABLE 23. Average Variable Costs in Gedaref Dura Schemes (£S per feddan)
|TOTAL VARIABLE COST||S£ 3.36||S£ 5.53|
Source: Calculated from various data provided by the sources listed in the footnote to section 3.8. above.
Further items of some importance in variable costs are sacks and strings for tying the sacks. Dura is handled entirely in sacks and the grower has to purchase these each year. A final item. seed costs, is relatively small. with seeds either being retained from the previous harvest or purchased locally.
3.8.3 Production Income
Yields of aura in the entire region varied widely and showed a tendency to go down over a number of years. Some actual yields were reported orally by the MFC (responsible for the support of the Gedaref schemes) as being in the range of 480 kg/feddan in 1969/70 and 150 kg/feddan in 1974/75. There is no information whether these results were obtained from the same area cultivated or not. A correlation of yields with average rainfall figures is also not very helpful. They alone do not explain the decreasing trend of yields. It should be noted that rainfall timing is perhaps as important as rainfall quantities. especially in connection with environmental and erosion problems.
The specific yield figures for the schemes analyzed in the main reports show a low average yield of 279 kg per feddan of aura for 1974/75, which is reported as well below the previous season. Given the importance of aura yields in determining scheme profitability, the question arises as to the extent to which yield is a function of the skill with which a scheme is managed-or is it more the result of uncontrollable factors such as the amount and timing of rainfall or the incidence of plant disease ? The reports of the major sources provide only a limited insight into this problem.
Respondents to a survey in 1974/75 were asked to give crop acres and levels of production for the 1973/74 season as well as for 1974/75, thus enabling yields to be calculated for both seasons. If management skill is a major factor determining yields, schemes with above-average yields in 1973/74 would be expected to have above-average yields in 1974/75. and the same could be said for those with belowaverage yields. In other words. there should be a correlation between yields in the two seasons. For the 30 schemes for which the two-season information was obtained, the correlation coefficient (r) is + 0.395, which is just significant at the 5 per cent level. This indicates that while management appears to have had some effect on yield. the aggregate effect of the other factors was much larger.
Experimental trials at the Tozi research station and elsewhere have shown very clearly that the time of sowing has a major influence on aura yields. with early sowing giving much higher yields. The time of sowing is partially controlled by management. Under good management, machinery will be in good condition at the start of the season (thus lessening the chances of breakdown). adequate stocks of seed, fuel, and machinery spare parts will be on hand, and the tractor drivers recruited in good time. However, even with all these measures taken. sowing may still be delayed by adverse weather and other unpredicted eventualities. The date of completing sowing at the different schemes was taken as an indication of the earliness or lateness of sowing, but no relationship was found between them and the calculated scheme yields.
Given that yield is a major determinant of profitability and that yields fall relatively rapidly with time under current husbandry practices, then these mechanized schemes may quickly become financially unviable unless the owner moves to new land. Traditional agriculture is usually on a shifting basis in these savanna areas. but shifting mechanized agriculture is a rather more serious threat to the environment. In the Gedaref area, many mechanized cultivations have already been abandoned in favour of new virgin land and sometimes serious sheet erosion has resulted.
Dura is normally sold by the sack. In 1974/75 there were no controls on aura prices. but scheme owners selling from the farm would receive lower prices to allow for transport and other marketing costs. The prices received therefore varied between £S 2.00 and £S 3.00 per sack in 25 schemes where this information was available. The price in the lower range would probably represent shall transactions when the crop is sold before harvest. The higher price could well be reported by scheme owners who were also merchants and so could presumably obtain higher than average returns. Prices also vary according to whether the local produce tax. the usher. is paid by the producer or the buyer. In the Gedaref region this tax is assessed at 12.5 per cent of the estimated production of each scheme and the crop is not supposed to leave the farm until the tax is paid.
What is the effect of variation of aura yields on the profit of schemes ? If yields per feddan of aura are as low as 100 kg only, this amounted in 1974/75 at the investigated schemes to a loss of over £S 3,000, while at 600 kg per feddan, a profit of over £S 4,000 could be calculated. The break-even point was 310 kg per feddan. which compares with the survey average of 280 kg per feddan. From those results it must be assumed that only half of the schemes were able to make a surplus at all. The variation of those schemes with positive figures was quite large. Nine schemes earned up to £S 990 surplus, five between £S 1.000 and 1,999, one between £S 2,000 and 2,999, two between £S 3.000 and 3,999. and finally, three between £S 4,000 and 4,999.
The mechanized Dura Production Schemes in the Gedaref region are a most vulnerable type of land-use system. The operator is able. under favourable circumstances. to earn large windfall gains but must take the risk of losing part of his investment if weather conditions are adverse. The question of environmental threat is difficult to answer. The usual practice of shifting cultivation to new ground if yields are no longer sufficient shows that the danger of depleting the soil is a real one. There are no data available on how long a period is required to restore the original fertility of the soil after a scheme has been abandoned. Major complications are also observed in the operational field because of the low level of infrastructure in that area which does not allow more efficient use of the production factors involved. It is expected that problems of obtaining seasonal labour for weeding and harvesting in these remote areas will increase to such an extent that the pressure to switch to chemical herbicides and to combinable aura varieties will be unavoidable.