Innovative irrigation in Sudan aids food security issues in Gulf Cooperation Council countries

Through a private initiative, Sudan and Abu Dhabi are working together on a project in which food security issues are tackled using innovative agricultural measures, and both parties win


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A hugely ambitious joint venture between Jenaan Investments, an Abu Dhabi-based company, and the Sudanese Government, has seen harsh desertland turned into lush green pastures – an impressive feat.
The joint venture, named Amtaar, is one of various international projects in which Jenaan has produced forage to contribute to food security for the UAE while, at the same time, Sudan has benefitted. It goes a little like this: Amtaar produces 20,000 tonnes of forage every month, while the Sudanese economy and its people greatly benefit through the initial direct foreign investment of $150 million and $50 million annual revenue from ongoing operations. It is the largest scale agricultural investment in Sudan.
“Give me agriculture and I will give you civilization.” These words, once spoken by the late Sheikh Zayed, perfectly summarize the project, which began life in 2010 with the construction of basic infrastructure such as roads, warehouses, accommodation, electricity and communication. Simultaneously, earthmoving equipment moved in to level vast areas of ancient desert plains, and prepare it for the cultivation of forage and grains. Amtaar is now one of the largest single irrigation farms in the world and covers more than 6,000 hectares of the Sahara Desert in Sudan.
A fixed irrigation system, suitable for desert and arid conditions was constructed to cover a continuous expanse of over 6,000 hectares, evenly distributing simulated rain over 97% of the land. This is nearly 25% more coverage that any central pivot irrigation system could possibly achieve. The state-of-the-art system uses leading-edge technology that consists of a pipe network of over 5,000km and 420,000 sprinklers.


Give me agriculture and I will give you civilization


The unique design not only irrigates crops and forage in the most optimal manner possibe, but also cools the temperature in summer through automatic, sequential block irrigation. This helps generate the very best growing conditions and increase overall yields, and has the advantage of drawing upon far less water than conventional systems do.
The design simplicity of the system, which has no moving parts, results in a very low maintenance requirement with a prolonged lifespan of more than 20 years. The even distribution of water over the whole area makes it suitable for foliar application, resulting in better overall yields. The ease of operation is another major advantage, especially in countries where skills are scarce. The innovative design further allows the system to take on any shape or size, as well as to tackle steep or irregular slopes.
Through this unique technology, Jenaan offers turnkey agricultural projects to clients who are interested in optimizing their resources. Today, five years later, the project has turned the uninhabitable desert into an oasis with its own micro-climate. Hundreds of birds and small animals have emerged seemingly from nowhere to enjoy the splendor. What was once a dream became a reality.
The benefit to the Sudanese economy through this project is huge in terms of employment creation and foreign exchange earnings. It is a unique value proposition, integrating local communities into the whole value chain. This includes all the benefits of infrastructure from roads, electricity networks and communication towers, to the transfer of skills, technology, expertise and wealth for the benefit of all stakeholders.


For more information, visit the website and watch the documentary video under “Gallery; Documentary”