Problems in Sudan

With an ample supply of arable land, Sudan has a large potential for agricultural production. It is one of the top 10 global producers of sorghum, an important food crop for millions of people around the globe. This large potential is hindered by a persistent low yield in primary cereal crops compared to other countries.

Like many African countries, Sudan lags behind the world in agricultural productivity due to slow adoption of important agricultural technologies such as the use of improved seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural inputs. Farmers work hard but productivity remains low. As demonstrated below, Sudan lags behind the region and the world in its rate of use of fertilizers and cereal yields. These two empirical observations are related. In particular, the low productivity of Sudanese agriculture is a chronic problem, associated with the low rate of fertilizer use, as well as other agricultural practices, and challenges in financing and marketing.

Use of nitrogen fertilizers against cereal yield (a) and times series of cereal yield (b) (Choi et al., 2022).

Climate change will have significant negative impacts on Sudan’s agricultural productivity. The warmer temperature will reduce agricultural productivity by impacting crop yields negatively. Recent research results from the Eltahir Research Group suggest that surface temperature in Sudan will increase by about 2°C in the next 30 years, with significant negative impacts on the already low crop yields, as shown in the figure below.

Change in yield of four crops in different regions in Sudan because of the change in climate by 2050 (Choi et al., 2022).

CREWSnet Solutions

We are extending our work to East Africa, with an initial focus on Sudan, to help address ongoing challenges of low agricultural productivity and future negative impacts of climate change on that productivity. We are working toward a green and prosperous Sudan adapting to climate change by transforming its agricultural sector and improving crop yields. Our work emphasizes the adoption of modern technology using better seed varieties that tolerate heat, soil fertility mapping coupled with an increased use of targeted fertilizers, and a strategic preference for vertical over horizontal expansion of agriculture.

Our goal is to help Sudan improve crop productivity by adopting current best practices and proactive climate-resilience adaptation strategies. To achieve this goal, we are focused on four main areas: Soils, Seeds, Fertilizers, and Public-Private Partnership (PPP):


In Sudan

The Jameel Observatory-CREWSnet work in Bangladesh is applicable to Sudan where the focus is on improving agricultural productivity by adapting best current practices, and on improving resilience to future climate change over the next 30 years. The work in Sudan is extensible to other regions in Africa.

To achieve the project’s goals in Sudan, we will follow three steps:

First, we will simulate the future regional climate change, and project its potential impact on the main cereal crops in the region. Second, we will develop solutions that are co-designed with local stakeholders, and evaluate their likely impact on agricultural productivity. Our solutions will incorporate soil fertility mapping to inform the targeted use of fertilizers, ensure fertilizer availability, and the use of heat tolerant seeds, all supported by public-private partnerships. Finally, these solutions will be implemented at scale and the knowledge disseminated locally through information-sharing and decision-support tools co-designed with the local community and other decision-makers, and developed by the project team.