Livestock is just the start

From cattle to camels, livestock is already a key sector in Sudan but much more can be done to truly reap the benefits of the country’s plentiful species and their products




SUDAN IS HIGHLY REGARDED in both the Middle East and Africa with regards to its livestock and animal resources, which make a considerable contribution to the country’s GDP. Its livestock contributes to food security and employment in the country, especially in rural areas. The country has a national herd, which includes cattle, camels, sheep, goats, poultry and breeds of horses, alongside an estimated 140 million head of cattle and an annual stock of more than 110,000 tonnes of fish. It also has numerous national reserves with a wealth of wild animals, and close to 2,000 species of bird (The Embassy of the Republic of Sudan, Washington).
The most important animal products in Sudan are milk, meat, poultry, skins, fur and wool. Revenues from animal resources have contributed to  development in various states in Sudan, such as North Kordufan and Gadarif. The Ministry of Livestock has increasingly begun to invest in animal health as well as disease eradication through campaigns. However, further development of infrastructure, such as the development of inspection, vaccination and veterinary centres is required to allow animal-producing states to reach their full potential.
Recently the Ministry of Livestock held the fifth conference with state ministers under the slogan “Animal Wealth, Renewable Sources, Food Security and the National Economy”. The meeting covered areas such as improving veterinary services, ensuring that livestock meet international standards, and commissioning further research into animal production. More than forty recommendations were made during the conference on how to improve animal wealth in Sudan (Sudan News Agency, 2016). The country is applying to become a member of the World Trade Organisation, which requires it to work towards ensuring that it complies with the HACCP system in food manufacture.
Sudan is currently working towards removing the barriers to the exporting of livestock, while ensuring that existing markets are not affected, and quality control is maintained to international standards. Tax and fees on animal resource exports are also currently being reviewed. The Ministry of Livestock has released a number of recommendations with the aim of ensuring that more livestock meet international standards. These recommendations include improving cross-breeding, supporting production and learning from international import and export procedures to bring livestock up to world trade standards.
The opportunities for investment in this sector include: establishing new markets for selling cattle; the breeding and fattening of cattle for meat production; establishing modern centres for red and white meat; establishing new fish farm businesses; setting up new mechanical slaughterhouses or maintaining existing ones; modernising poultry farm systems; and improving veterinary services. A sector that would lend itself well to exports is the leather sector. Sudan has huge capacities in this sector and through the generation of new techniques and investment these advantages could be further explored. There is also a growing demand for animal feed. The animal feed industry requires further research, as does the generation of new technologies and techniques in order to meet this demand. This has been put forward as one of the essential solutions for agricultural and rural development, which could contribute to reducing food insecurity and poverty in the country.
Modern poultry production has recently been developed across a number of states in Sudan, but especially in Khartoum. The production of poultry enjoys a comparative advantage in Sudan and meets the needs of the local markets. The development of this sector has been part of Sudan’s economic development, and the industry has been growing rapidly. Farmers are moving from an open system where farms mainly produce eggs, to closed and semi-closed systems, where farms are specialised in eggs and broiler production and producers prepare their own feed. Local and international investors are beginning to start new poultry businesses in Sudan. For this sector to be developed further, increased applied research is required, as well as training of the workforce, an increase in diagnostic laboratories, and the revival of agriculture.
The camel population in Sudan is one of the highest in the world and the meat from young camels has been compared to the texture and taste of beef. However this area of production is far from reaching its full potential. There is a need for research into how to innovate the camel meat and milk sector. Camel production could be improved through the modernisation of meat and milk processing. At present, a lack of milk-processing technologies and a poor production system are examples of the restrictions on camel dairy production.
Sudan has access to a wealth of natural resources that are suitable for fish production, fisheries and aquaculture. The natural fisheries of Sudan are made up of the inland or fresh water fisheries, composed of the Nile and its tributaries, and the Red Sea marine fisheries. In 1985 Sudan became Party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The country is a member of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) and two FAO regional fishery bodies: the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and the Committee for Inland Fisheries of Africa (CIFA). Sudan participates in INFOSAMAK, the Centre for Marketing Information and Advisory Services for Fishery Products in the Arab Region, and the country has also offered to lead the establishment of a fisheries commission for the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden (FAO).
However, the contribution of fisheries to Sudan’s GDP is currently marginal. The industry requires further investment to reach its full potential, as only a small percentage of the total fish resources in the country is being utilised. This is partly due to the lack of statistical data available, and the need for a more skilled and experienced workforce in the industry. Exports of fish and fish products are currently small, and Sudan needs improved fishery technologies and increased expertise to develop its fishing industry. This would also open up the potential for improved fish production, increased job opportunities, and improved food security.