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African Food Production Can Double

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Sudanese farmer inspecting crop

Africa can feed itself if it gets its act together. And Sudan’s KSC can be the food production model to show the way. Sudan is poised to double its food production in the short term, a living example for the 17 nations of Africa threatened with famine, providing an escape route from impending disaster.

 

Led by its major food producer KSC, Sudan’s food-producing acreage can expand from its 41 million food-producing acres today to large portions of the 200 million acres of arable Sudanese land that now lays fallow. By way of comparison this is half the 400 million acres being farmed in the USA in 2016.

 

Recognizing that much of Africa has been slow to the food production starting gate, KSC’s strategic vision is to surf the waves of globalization and modernization sweeping the planet. And KSC is fully prepared to do so.

Africa’s first PPP

KSC is the first and arguably the best public-private-partnership in Africa’s history, conflating superior green technology practices, plentiful Middle East capital, and global trading partners ready to engage the American investment markets. Founded in 1976, KSC’s directors from Sudan, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia recognized that combining private entrepreneurial industrial farm management with governmental goals for food security for Africa and the Middle East, was a perfect match to produce a win-win solution for African farmers and the rising expectations of the continent’s next generation. 

According to UN/FAO reports, Africa can feed itself and export food if sustainable technology is provided to smallholders

Image courtesy of Quora.com

With technology from the east and west; finance largely from Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states; management from Sudan’s entrepreneurial private sector, and access to land and water steadily provided by successive Sudanese governments, KSC became one of Africa’s biggest and best producers of food.

Focusing on sugar and a few other crops, KSC has led its field by consistently delivering on productivity and competitiveness goals in the world market, gaining a global reputation among its peers and customers. Today KSC is poised to lead Sudan and Africa in the rapid growth of more than a dozen crops, following two decades of slow but steady national growth.

What slowed Sudan down? The slow but steady growth of Sudan’s economy was impacted by two unexpected events in Sudan in the late 1990s: terror and oil.

The first impact was the discovery in 1996 that Osama bin Laden was organizing terrorists there, which even after his expulsion led to US sanctions that have lingered for twenty years and had the perverse, unintended consequence of impeding international bank transactions with Sudan. A British study in 2015 estimated that the sanctions cost Sudan’s mostly farm economy an estimated $3 billion per year. US sanctions were never intended to hurt Sudanese farmers or food production. In fact, the US has been adamant about that intention. Nevertheless, it happened.   And the second impact event was the discovery of oil in the south which by 2000 also had the unintended but predictable consequence of crowding out investment and interest in agricultural expansion – the classic Dutch Disease found to one degree or another in all oil states.

TODAY, BOTH OBSTACLES ARE BEING REMOVED

  • Sudan sanctions were removed by President Obama and President Trump

  • The US is likely to remove the state sponsor of terror designation of Sudan which is a misnomer

  • Oil may be important but agriculture is essential to Sudan's breadbasket economy

  • Relations between Sudan and the US are normalizing as they already have with Europe

Harvard’s Dr. Ricardo Hausmann of the Kennedy School of Government documented the impact of oil on Sudan in The Atlas of Economic Complexity (2010) which tracked the knowledge capacities of populations, export products and economic development in over 100 countries.

 

In 1988, 90% of Sudan’s exports income came from dozens of agricultural crops or derivative products like sugar and gum Arabic. In 2008, ten years after the discovery of oil, well over 90% of Sudan’s exports income came from oil alone, and agricultural exports were down. Oil can be a blessing and a curse.

 

Oil produces few jobs while over 80% of the 41 million Sudanese people earn their livelihoods from agriculture, either smallholdings or subsistence farming. The downturn in agricultural growth opportunities also contributed to conflicts in Sudan’s rural provinces and to the migration of rural youth to cities with little capacity to provide them adequate jobs or housing.

In 2011, with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement backed by the US, South Sudan became an independent nation -- it owned two-thirds of the oil -- but in a few months after independence, South Sudan fell into a political dispute that ignited a tribal war that has killed 200,000 and caused 2 million refugees to leave the country, which is ravaged to this day. The UN believes that South Sudan is threatened with level 5 famine today.

 

But in the north, the response to the loss of oil returned Sudan to its historical and literal roots – agriculture. And to spur rural development there, in January, 2017, days before he left office, President Obama lifted the sanctions on Sudan provisionally (for 6 months study that ended in July) and President Trump has continued the provisional study for 3 months more (it will finalize in October, 2017).

As a result of normalization, international bank transactions have opened US finance,technology and agriculture to Sudan’s agriculture, which is seen as a great opportunity, a  pattern documented in 2010 by the Wall Street guru C.K. Prahalad:

Green light for food production

KSC is leading the effort to double sugar production in the short term – a five or six year window.

At the same time, KSC is looking with concern at its neighborhood where a great need exists for a modern, globally-connected, locally knowledgeable, food production company to team up with African farmers, both with the common cause of doubling agricultural production. Notice that Sudan, the breadbasket, is relatively close to tens of millions of Africans in countries with food production possibilities but under the threat of famine.

KSC also plans to open for concessions, partnerships and collaborative development millions of available acres where dozens of crops, animal and derivative food projects can be produced in the short term.