The White Blessing Back on Track :Cotton Returns as Strategic Crop
Cotton crop or the White Gold (Long-staple cotton), constitutes one of Sudan’s major cash crops. International prices of long-stable cotton have recently quadrupled compared to short-stable cotton prices.
The Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture has recently attached great concern to this important crop and reiterated that it would possibly return as a strategic crop in the coming period.
In this respect, the ministry announced that it has worked out arrangements and plans in coordination with Sudanese Cotton Company to develop and expand the cotton-cultivated area in the country.
It is to be noted that cotton was number one crop in Sudan’s exports before the recent leap in the country’s oil industry.
History of cotton cultivation in Sudan:
Historians differ regarding entry of cotton cultivation in Sudan, but most of them agree that it was first introduced at Tokar area in eastern Sudan and Al-Zaidab area in northern Sudan before it was moved to the irrigated schemes including the Gezira, the Blue Nile, the White Nile and Halfa and Rahad schemes. Cotton was also cultivated in rain-fed areas such Nuba Mountains and other areas.
Commercially, cotton utilization dates back to the early 19th century, namely following the completion of Sinnar Dam and the establishment of Gezira Agricultural scheme.
The Sudanese cotton has then became famous worldwide where it was imported by the British Lancashire companies before its reputation reached France, western and eastern Europe, eastern Asia, China and Japan.
Cotton as important economic resource:
Cotton was the number one crop in Sudan’s exports before the recent leap in the country’s oil industry. A recent report for the Board of Directors of Sudan’s Cotton Company, released during the board’s 11th meeting for fiscals (2008-2009, 2009- 2010), indicated that the total profits for the fiscal 2008 and 2009 amounted to 4,352 million SDGs compared to the profits of the fiscal 2009-2010 which amounted to 6.826 million SDGs.
Gezira and Halfa schemes constitute important pillar for Sudan’s economy due to their high value assets and accumulative administrative and technical experiences.
In this respect, the cotton production in Halfa and Gezira agricultural schemes amounted to 55000 bales during the 2009-2010 season with a reduction of 91,1 thousands bales from 2008-2009 season in which the production amounted to 146,1 thousands bales with a reduction rate of %62,3.
As for Rahad agricultural scheme, and after cessation of cotton cultivation in 2008, the farmers strongly returned to the cultivation of the crop in the current season where the cultivation area amounted to 51000 feddans out of the proposed 65000 feddans.
Although Sudan’s cotton production reached 1, 3 million bales during the 1990s, yet it has presently dropped to 130000 bales due to lack of funding and production inputs.
As part of the concerned authorities’ endeavors to bring cotton back to its normal position as a pillar of the country’s economy, the company, according to its report, has planned to increase the cotton cultivated area to 2,2 million feddans during the agricultural season 2013-2014 and to 800.000 feddans during 2012-2013 compared to 400.000 feddans for the current season.
The cotton exports’ estimated the country’s revenues for this year at 700 million US Dollars out of the total cultivated area funded by the company.
The company further said that the received amounts of medium-stable cotton at the centers during the past days amounted 248,654 sacks so far and that the ginning operations were continuing at Rebek, Hassahaisa, Halfa Al-Jadida and Al-Fao ginning centers.
It added that marketing of the cottonseeds was progressing satisfactorily and that they are currently being delivered to the various oil extracting plants according to the declared arrangements.
Meanwhile, the company has also continued to support the Agricultural Research and Technology Authority, which worked to create new samples of high production quality to contribute to increasing the cotton productivity quantitatively and qualitatively.
Cotton purchasing operations directly from the farmers have progressed successfully according to the company report.
By Fikriya Aba Yazid - (sudanow.info), 01/05/2012