Agricultural and Micro Industries
Improvement Centre in Rizegat Region in Darfur
Most of the project area lies in arid and semi-arid zone. It has three agro-ecological zones which are complementary to one another in sustaining livestock production which is the dominant activity. The first zone with low rain savannah (less than 200 mm) and sandy soil is in the northern part of the project area. The second zone with moderate low rainfall savannah (200-400 mm) and sandy clay soil is in the middle of the area. The 3rd zone with high rainfall savannah and clay soils is in the southern part of the area.
General economic Situation
Livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, camels and horses) is the dominant economic activity. The majority of livestock is owned by nomadic and semi nomadic (transhumants) herders. Resident cultivators also own livestock as secondary activity to crop production. Livestock is based on communal grazing involving regular movements of animals and people from north to south and vise versa for some clans and from east to west and vise versa for other clans. It is characterized by low productivity, overgrazing and overstocking of the grazing areas which have led to degradation of natural resources, widening of desertification and the new phenomenon of cut throat competition in the use of available resources.
Rainfed crop farming assumes great importance. The main crops grown are sorgum, millet, groundnuts,sesame, gum Arabic and Karakadeh (hibiscus) . Small scale farming dominates using traditional methods with low productivity and poor quality of final products. In addition, the project area is endowed with a variety of marketable wild forest fruits and medicinal and aromatic plants such as boabob fruits of konkolez (adansonia digitata), aradeb (tramarindues indicus), gudddem (grewis tenax), gingerbread palm (hyphaene thebaica), garad (acacia nilotica) and many others. This is in addition to gum Arabic and honey.
Therefore, the project area has great potential for sustainable development of its resource if well defined and deliberate plans and programmes are formulated and implemented to redress the constraints and problems that hitherto have caused declining and low productivity of farming and livestock in the area and contributed to the waste of resources or inability to use the untapped resources. The outcome of all this is widespread poverty and continuous tension and conflict in utilization of available resources between sedentary farmers and nomads and semi nomads and among the nomads.
Crops and livestock production are generally characterized by low, declining and vacillating yields. These low yields results in low income, poverty, malnutrition, and low standards of living. Post harvest losses and waste are high. The marketing system could be described as inefficient and disorganized. It is characterized by rising costs, high post harvest losses, weak bargaining position of sellers (farmers and herders) and exorbitant profits and middlemen margins.
The local economy has been severely disrupted by civil strife due to conflicts on the use of the available resources, tribal feuds and wars within the region or in neighbouring areas. The situation is worsened by poor infrastructure including poor road transport, limited water supplies particularly during dry periods, weak supporting services including limited access to crop and livestock inputs and drugs and poor access to credit, degradation of natural resources and environment and inadequate health, education and sanitary services. The meagerness of government allocation for development coupled with high taxes reduced the abilities of the population of the region to escape this underdevelopment and poverty trap.
The general worsening situation of the project area is exasperated by feuds and conflicts between individuals and groups particularly between sedentary farmers and transhumants. The unplanned expansion in crop production without taking into consideration the needs of pastoralist has disrupted the movement of the herds and their access to grazing and water causing conflicts which sometimes escalate to bloody conflicts. Furthermore, the abolition of the native mechanism that used to regulate access and use of range and water without putting a viable substitute to this mechanism, has intensified the conflicts.