The African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors approved $73.81 million on December 9, 2022 in Abidjan to fund the Sudan Emergency Wheat Production Project under the Bank’s African Emergency Food Production Facility.
The Sudanese economy is based primarily on agriculture, which accounts for 60% of all exports and produces a third of the country’s GDP. More than half of the country’s workforce is employed there.
Sudan, the third-largest nation by land area, has long experienced severe food insecurity as a result of a variety of factors, including economic downturn and hyperinflation, population displacement brought on by conflict, and subpar agricultural harvests.
The current global increases in food and energy prices, which have also had a significant impact on the nation, have made the situation worse. Since 2021, the price of sorghum and millet has increased by 150–200%, while the price of wheat has increased by almost threefold. This is due to the fact that 60–70% of the wheat Sudan uses is imported, primarily from Russia and Ukraine. Inflation has been fueled by a triple-digit increase in energy and fertiliser prices.
The African Development Bank’s funding will support the large-scale procurement and delivery of certified seeds of varieties that are adapted to the climate, fertilisers, and extension services for smallholder farmers. The project is anticipated to increase wheat production from the current level of 630,000 tonnes to 1.52 million tonnes in just two years. The programme will benefit about 400,000 smallholder farming households, 40% of which are headed by women. The spin-offs along the value chains for wheat, seeds, and fertiliser will also benefit nearly 800,000 casual workers.
“Sudan, with the largest irrigated area in sub-Saharan Africa, has enormous potential not only to become self-sufficient in wheat, but also to become an exporter,” says Nnenna Nwabufo, African Development Bank’s Director General for East Africa.
The project targets small-scale farmers, seasonal workers, seed producers, and agricultural traders in Sudan’s main wheat-growing regions, such as Al-Jazira, New Halfa, Upper Nile, and White Nile, which have large irrigated areas and are more resilient to climate change.
The World Food Programme in Sudan will implement the project.
“The Sudan Emergency Wheat Production Project (SEWPP) will benefit from the spillovers and lessons learned from previous projects the Bank has financed in the country,” said Mary Monyau, the African Development Bank’s Country Manager in Sudan. Notable among the successful projects is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) Wheat initiative (2018-2021), which has revamped the Sudanese wheat́ sector and increased yields from 1.5 to 2.3 tonnes/hectare and production from less than 350,000 tonnes to 1.1 million tonnes in just five years (from 2014 to 2019).
In May 2022, the Bank established the $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Facility to assist African nations in preventing a looming food crisis brought on by the disruption of food supplies brought on by the conflict in Ukraine.
With a total commitment of $486.2 million, the Bank currently has 19 operations in Sudan. With investments totaling $272.3 million, or 56% of the portfolio, the agricultural industry benefits the most.