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3.7 Agadi state farm, Blue Nile province.


The Agadi State Farm is one instrument to develop the so-far unused, semi-arid land areas in the Blue Nile region. It is part of the Damazin area and has cracking clay soils which are considered to be arable only through mechanization. A large-scale public enterprise, the Agadi State Farm is expected to contribute a considerable surplus of export and domestic crops, to provide employment, and to create a nucleus of economic activities in a thinly populated area. The direct control of production on the state farm, compared with private schemes, should result in a higher level of technical achievement. Rotational practices have to be sound in order to avoid environmental damages; aura should alternate with sesame, and cotton should alternate with fallow. The state farm should undertake large-scale experiments and trials to gain results which could also be applied to private farms. The use of new varieties and inputs as well as the application of modern methods of land preparation should be tested. Through data collection, contributions should be made to determine what alternative strategies are available to the principle of profit maximization under conditions of high uncertainty-for example, loss avoidance, capacity use of invested capital equipment. etc.

Production concept

The Agadi State Farm makes up the southern part of the Agadi West area demarcated for mechanized farming. To the north of the farm, adjacent to it, are the Agadi West private mechanized schemes. The farm has been allotted 210,000 feddans, not all of which are yet cleared. It is by far the largest state farm in the Sudan.

The development of the farm has been financed by a loan from the Kuwait Fund for Arab Social and Economic Development-totalling 1.6 million Kuwaiti dinars agreed upon in 1970. The loan is broken down into its constituent items in Table 18. The repayment period set was 25 years with a grace period until 1 January 1977 for repayment of the first installment. The rate of interest is 3 per cent per annum.

The headquarters and main camp of the farm are situated at the edge of the village at Jebel Agadi.

There are the wooden houses and grass huts to house the farm staff, and large steel-framed machinery sheds, stores, and workshops. There are also two grain silos along with three others elsewhere on the farm. and six traditional matmurrahs (storage pits dug out of the clay soil). At the edge of the camp area is an army post with a dozen or so soldiers whose job is to guard the farm and the private schemes and to prevent trespassing nomads.

Of the 21 0,000 feddans allotted to the farm, 120,000 had already been cleared by last season (1974/75), the fourth season of operations on the farm. This year (1975/76), the job of clearing a further 25.000 feddans was tendered to five contractors for manual clearing at the rate of S 4.86 per feddan cleared. By July 1975, however. when clearance was supposed to have been completed, only 6,000 feddans were ready, partly because of payment problems with the contractors. In any year, only part of the area cleared is actually cultivated, the rest being left fallow. The area cultivated has increased from about 12,000 feddans in 1971/72 to about 64,000 feddans in 1974/75. For the first two seasons, only sesame and aura were grown on the farm, but in 1973/74 American cotton was introduced into the rotation.

TABLE 17. State Farms in the Sudan-Areas, Allotted

State Farm Area Allotted
Agadi (Blue Nile) 210 000
Simsim (Kassala) 70 000
Guzrum (Upper Nile) 30 000
Habila (South Kordofan) 30 000
Nertiti (South Darfur) 10 000
Umm Ajaj (South Darfur) 60 000

Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 27.

TABLE 18. Agadi State Farm-Details of Kuwaiti Loan

Item Financed Kuwaiti Dinarsa
Land clearance equipment 95 000
Other land clearance costs 200 000
Agricultural machinery 635 000
Cars, lorries, tractors. etc. 60 000
Material for sheds and stores 190 000
Workshop equipment 25 000
Spare parts 158 000
Camp buildings, R. T. survey equipment 7 000
Study of administration system 100 000
Reserve fund 130 000
TOTAL LOAN 1 600 000

Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 28.

a. The exchange rate on 31 Jan. 1972 was 1 Kuwaiti diner = 0.85715 sterling. making the loan equivalent to f 1.37 million sterling.

TABLE 19. Agadi State Farm-Budgeted and Actual Investment Expenditures

  1971/72 1972/73 1973/74 a
Budget Actual Budget Actual Budget Actual
1.Tree clearance 250 000 150 000 200 000 80 793 200 000 153
2.Heavy machinery - - 119 000 78 793 63 000 46 040
3.Agricultural tractors 80 000 373 56 000 37 273 86 000 43 353
4.Disc harrows 65 000 - 42000 71 590 42 000 915
5.Combine harvesters 135000 - 151000 109983 102000 2350
6.Vehicles. lorries. etc. 27000 22024 142 500 31991 151600 8930
7.Trailers 3 500 4 400 2 400 - 8 000 158
8.Miscellaneous equipment 3 200 9 932 5000 1 293    
9.Construction of stores. sheds. etc. 60 000 12 904 303 000 7 853 276 530 25 693
10.Equipment, stores. etc for workshops 13 000 2 056 40 100 11 156 38 800 4 485  
11.Housing 20000 9524 39600 19600 35100 6955
12.Fuel and water tanks 27 000 1 713 45 000 - 40000 7 527
13.Various 5000 5 528 31 709 45 038 63 970 140
14.Contingency 11 300 49722 23000 42443 23000 100
TOTAL 700000 268176 1 200309 5380361 130000 146799

Source: University of Leeds Report. p. 29.

a. The actual expenditures for the year 1973/74 did not include the last month. June (for which figures are not yet compiled). when a substantial part of payments are recorded. Figures for expenditures in 1973/74 therefore considerably under-estimate the actual expenditures.

Work began on establishing the farm in 1971; Table 19 compares the actual and budgeted investment expenditures in the first three years. The actual expenditures for 1973/74 have so far only been compiled up to May 1974 and so the figures are said to considerably under-estimate the actual annual expenditure. It is evident, however, that actual disbursements have lagged well behind the budgeted figures.

The machinery on the farm in December 1974 is listed in Table 20. Since that date, 15 more CKM4 harvesters and 35 more Leyland tractors have been acquired in anticipation of an extra 25,000 feddans being cultivated. As this target has not been met, not all of the extra machines are necessary. Although it is reported that at any one time up to 15 per cent of the tractors and combines will be under repair, the number of machines seems high relative to the cropped area.

The farm is under the direction of the farm manager (the present manager is a graduate of the Faculty of Agriculture, Khartoum University, who has also received post-graduate training abroad) responsible to the regional manager of the MFC at Damazin. The journey to Damazin, during the dry season, takes a little over half an hour and there is a fairly regular flow of traffic between the farm and Damazin to maintain contact (there is no telephone link). Assisting the manager in the direction of the farm are three agricultural production officers (who are young agricultural graduates) and seventeen local assistants, as well as a resident engineer, who is assisted by two technical-school graduates.

TABLE 20. Agadi State Farm-Machinery Available 1974/75

Type Number
D.7 Caterpillar tractors 1
D.8 Caterpillar tractors 2
Motor graders 6
Steyr articulated lorries 2
Toyota cars 13
Toyota trucks 2
Bedford trucks 2
Austin trucks 3
Trailers 6
Wide-level disc harrows 112
Wheeled tractors (mostly Leyland) 104
CKM4 (Russian) combine harvesters 35

Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 30.

The planned staffing is one local assistant to each of the 5,000 feddan units into which the farm is divided, with a graduate officer to every ten units or 50,000 feddans. The total permanent staff including mechanics, drivers, and watchmen is around 160. In addition, extra tractor drivers are recruited on a seasonal basis for crop sowing and for the aura harvest, while large numbers of casual workers are employed for weeding and harvesting sesame and aura and for picking cotton.

The local assistants are young men with secondary education but without professional training. They have an important function in supervising operations on their units, where they live with the tractor drivers and other staff in simple accommodations during the crop season.

Production Performance

Land preparation and sowing begin with the first rains, with sesame and cotton sown before aura. Last season. the sowing dates for those units sown with sesame extended from 4 to 16 July. and for cotton from 16 July to 3 August. On some units aura sowing began as early as 21 July. but on others it continued through till 8 September. Land preparation may involve one or two discings according to the weed growth (and to whether the unit was in fallow the previous season). and possibly some hand labour to uproot bushes. Cotton seeds are broadcast by hand by men sitting astride the wide level discs. Sesame and aura seeds are sown mechanically using an adapted seed box. Last season 5.937 feddans were sown with the Wad Yabis (non-combinable) variety of aura. and 42,033 feddans with the Tozi Umm Binein (combinable) variety. The Umm Binein seed was obtained from the Tozi Seed Propagation Centre, and the Wad Yabis was retained from the previous season. as was the sesame seed.

The preparation and sowing period is an extremely hectic one for the farm staff, who spend much of the time on the units because of the difficulty in travelling around the farm after the rains have begun. As on the private schemes, work continues at night on a shift basis.

Weeding is done manually, with cotton being weeded twice. The Umm Binein variety of aura is said to to need little weeding because of the relatively high seed rate applied. 1 6 rotls (a rotl is approximately a pound) as compared with 4 for Wad Yabis. The labour for weeding either comes from the villages in the immediate area or else from the Kurmuk and Geissan areas further south.

The 1974 cotton crop was sprayed by air with Endosulfan at the rate of 1 gallon per 4 feddans.

The cost of application was S 0.30 per feddan (each time)-11,1 30 feddans were sown with cotton- and the total cost of the operation, including the cost of the chemicals. appears in the accounts as S 1 3,220. In addition, part of the aura crop was also sprayed, at a total cost of S 1,01 5.

Sesame is cut and threshed by hand, with harvesting beginning in early November. Cotton picking begins around 1 December. Once again, the labour supply for the sesame harvest is partly local but mainly from the Kurmuk and Geissan districts. The cotton pickers (1,880 were employed at the peak of the 1974/75 season) are drawn mainly from the area around Tendelti in Kordofan, about 400 km distant. The farm, like many of the private schemes. sends lorries to the labour source areas. It is interesting to note that these workers found picking on the state farm more remunerative than in the Gezira. For cotton picking. the workers bring their families and all work in the fields. whereas for the other operations the work force is an entirely male one. The rates paid for weeding the 1974/75 crops varied from about 40 pts (piastres) per feddan for sesame, between 40 and 50 pts for aura, to about 75 pts per feddan for each weeding of the cotton crop. For sesame cutting. the rate was between 50 pts and 80 pts per hilla with usually 4 to 5 hillas per feddan. The sesame was threshed at 25 pts per sack.

The rate paid for picking cotton was 45 pts per small kantar, with an extra payment for filling the sacks. In addition to their cash remuneration. all casual workers are provided with food (aura, oil, fish, etc.) and simple huts for accommodation. The rates were in line with those on the private schemes.

The aura harvest begins in January and continues till March. The Wad Yabis aura variety was cut by hand in 1975, but so were several thousand feddans of the combinable Umm Binein variety. All the aura is threshed by combine harvester.

Table 21 shows the areas sown with the different crops since the farm was opened, together with production and computed yields per feddan. Considerable variation in the year-to-year yields of all the crops is apparent.

The state farm revenue is derived mainly from crop sales but in 1974 included additional income from contract harvesting. After the farm aura harvesting was completed, combines were sent to the Gezira for the wheat harvest and earned an additional revenue of S 49,000 for the farm.

Details of aura crop sales for the 1974/75 season are given in Table 22. More than half the crop was sold by tender to a Khartoum merchant at a price of S 2.31 a sack by the farm. This is relatively low compared with prices obtained on the adjacent private schemes as recorded in the survey, but probably reflects the predominance of combinable varieties. The sesame crop was also sold by tender at S 5.50 per kantar, producing a revenue of S 72,534. Total revenue from aura sales stood at S 366,288.

TABLE 21. Agadi State Farm-Crop Areas, Production, and Yields since Opening

  1971/72 1972/73 1973/74 1974/75
production (kantars) 4 590 9 010 10 490 13130
area (feddans) 1 000 2 600 5 000 4 100
yield (kg/feddan) 206 155 94 144
production (sacks) 54 400 135 000 98 502 153 000
area (feddans) 11 184 54000 47 740 47 970
yield (kg/feddan) 491 253 208 322
production (small kantars) - - 15 518 44 950
area (feddans) - _ 1 452 11 130
yield (kg/feddan) - - 480 181

Source: University of Leeds Report. D 32.

Details of expenditure during the whole of the 1974/ 75 financial year are not available for the completion of this report, but figures have been obtained for the expenditures in the period from July 1974 to March 1975 inclusive. These include much of the farm expenditure but are of course incomplete and therefore of relatively little value, although it is of interest to examine their composition. The main items are staff salaries and allowances, making up 14 per cent of the partial total; wages and food to seasonal labour, 37 per cent: machinery, 23 per cent: and cars, 16 per cent. This leaves 10 per cent for seeds, sprays, and sundries. The high percentage of costs on cars reflects the large amount of travelling involved in running such a large farm.


The performance of the Agadi State Farm can be rated above the average of the adjacent private schemes. The large input of investment and qualified staff made it possible to follow modern management systems. yielding 322 kg per feddan of aura, 144 kg of sesame, and 181 kg of cotton. The farm made substantial profits during the last years, but the question of the permanence of crop production cannot be answered so far. The observation of more years with different rain-fall quantities and patterns is necessary to estimate the average yield potential of the area. farming practices being unchanged.

Recruitment and the management of a large number of seasonal labourers presents considerable difficulties. and with access to governmental funds, the incentive is high to mechanize production as fully as possible: capital invested per feddan is higher than on private schemes. This has to be counted as a cost to the economy against the benefits the country receives from the export of cotton because nearly all of the capital investment and oil has to be bought with foreign currency.

TABLE 22. Agadi State Farm-Disposal of the 1974/75 Dura Crop

Number of Sacksa Destination Price per Sack (S)
5 000 Held in farm silos -
5 000 Food for farm labour -
2 000 Tozi propagation farm -
40 000 Suki irrigation scheme 3.25
90000 Khartoum merchant 2.31
12000 Blue Nile Province 2.31
284 Local merchants 2.31

Source: University of Leeds Report, p. 33.
a.One sack weighs approximately 100 kilograms


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