Coronavirus Threatens Food Security in Sudan
Food security in Sudan faces new challenges as the government takes restrictive measures on stemming the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The measures have greatly affected producers especially those working in the agriculture sector, which represents 44% of the Sudanese economy.
The curfew imposed on producers in the agriculture and industrial sectors threatens the future of food security in the African country, where preparations for summer seasonal crops are usually made in April and May.
Sudan's Ambassador to Italy and Permanent Representative to UN agencies in Rome, Abdul Wahab Hijazi, said that with the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, entering full lockdown there is a desperate need to rush completing agriculture tasks for the upcoming summer season.
Hijazi warned that the shutdown harshly affects small-scale producers and farmers as they are the most vulnerable.
The agricultural sector is one of the largest economic sectors in Sudan with 80% of the population depending on agriculture. The sector participates with 44% of the gross domestic product and is the main driver of agricultural industries.
Official reports indicate that Sudan has about 200 million acres of arable land, of which only 25% is used.
The Sudanese cabinet of ministers had formed a supreme committee tasked with having the summer seasonal crop thrive by providing needed aid to farmers.
Meanwhile, the Sudanese undersecretary for the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Abdul Qadir Turkawi, played down the impact of the state’s COVID-19 measures on the progress of operations for the country's agricultural season.
He told Asharq Al-Awsat that the ministry, last March, started importing seeds and fertilizers in cooperation with the Sudanese Agricultural Bank.
“The situation is reassuring for the success of the agricultural season despite the difficulties encountered,” Turkawi said, clarifying that the global slowdown due to the coronavirus will affect only the import of a few seeds, because most seeds are produced locally through the Arab Company for Seeds Production.