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Food Security: Pipe Dreams

Muawad Mustafa Rashid

The Minister of Finance affirmed while addressing the Arab Food Security Initiative scientific forum which took place in Al-Shariga Hall at the University of Khartoum last week, that there is a shortage in providing accurate information about the soil and the quantities of water and that is due to the failure of utilizing the natural resources of the country to the maximum.

What our honorable Minister said is not new and is the tip of the iceberg of the problems and obstacles that all the economic sectors are suffering.

But what is new is that the minister said that there are arrangements that will make Sudan on top of the Arab world in terms of food security.

This statement seems to be vague, contradictory, and difficult to comprehend due for several reasons which I will mention of it below:

Firstly: The Minister spoke about the possibility of making Sudan on top of the food security states, while we there are serious steps that support such orientation, but on the contrary, there is continuous deterioration in the performance of all economic sectors including the agricultural sector as there is an absence of plans to rehabilitate this sector through introducing the modern agricultural technology.

The continuous deterioration of the agricultural sector is not strange if we consider the accumulated problems without any solutions and the absence of an executive body to make plans and goals.

Secondly: Sudan is living, since the 25th October 2021 coup in economic isolation according to which all the economic programs with the IMF are suspended.

Thirdly: The Minister pointed, in his address, to the importance of dealing with the main infrastructure of the agricultural sector represented by roads, railways, power, silos, laboratories, and supporting the production inputs.

Well, what are the plans of the Ministry and other concerned ministries in finding a solution to those problems to make us trust what the Minister is saying that Sudan can be the top producer for the Arab world in food security?

Fourthly: The current preparations for the agricultural season are facing a lot of problems due to the failure of the Ministry of Finance in finding solutions, on top of those problems is the financing which, if not resolved, to the failure of the season.

It is recognized that the Ministry of Finance stopped its support to the production inputs e.g. Gasoil, fodders, fertilizers, etc. so how can the Minister speak about the revival of the agricultural sector while he stopped the support for a matter that makes most of the farmers reduce their agricultural areas this year.

If this is the reality how come the Minister speaks about the revival of the agricultural sector?

We all know the rich natural resources of Sudan, especially in the agricultural sector, but we did not see any clear strategies or plans to utilize those resources to save hard currency. We just hear now and then optimistic reassuring statements about what the country owns from unutilized resources and expertise.

The Minister also revealed an agreement with the Arab countries to address the World Bank urging for financing the food with affordable prices to allow for importing foodstuff and inputs collectively, but we all know that now the relations with the World Bank are suspended after the 25th October 2021 coup.

What the Minister said about providing support to the small-scale agricultural investments besides financing the inputs to increase production is not more than public relations talk because he did not explain the plan to put his words into action.

It was assumed that the Minister speaks about the achievements of his ministry and the efforts to rehabilitate the economic sectors including the collapsed agricultural sector, besides displaying the plans of his Ministry in this regard.

As for his call to the experts and scientists t provide accurate data on the soil and water to allow for arranging the agricultural priorities, we propose that all this should be included in a comprehensive plan to study the problems of the agricultural sector under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance with the other concerned institutions including the Ministry of Agriculture.

It is high time for our officials to adapt the track of plans, solutions, and achievements afar from the repeated words, promises and explanations, considering that doing the work according to the job description is not an achievement to talk about in the media.

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