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7. The cheese industry and underdevelopment in the White Nile

G. D. El Tayeb

Editor's Introduction

Agricultural products may be sold out of a region in a raw, semi-processed, or processed state. In general, the more processing carried out before removal from the region the better the income the region will derive and the lower the costs of transportation. For example, aura is marketed outside of the region in its raw state after threshing and winnowing, but cotton receives some local processing at the ginning factory at Ed Dueim, where the lint is cleaned and separated from the seeds; both are then sent for further processing elsewhere. The lint is exported and the seeds receive further processing at oil mills in the Gezira and Khartoum North.

A similar process can be seen with regard to livestock products. Cattle travel outside the region to become meat, and their by-products are processed in the Three Towns. It had originally been hoped that improved rural water supplies in the White Nile Province and elsewhere west of the White Nile would enable a meat-processing industry to develop. Towards this end the ill-fated meat-canning factory was built at Kosti, but regrettably to no avail.

In contrast, the White Nile cheese industry is a small but successful example of an enterprise taking milk, a local agricultural raw material, and converting it into cheese, a finished market product. The development of this local industry is the theme of this chapter.

Author's Introduction

The area under investigation here extends westwards from the White Nile to longitude 31 45'E, and its southern and northern limits are constituted by latitudes 13 30'N and 14 45'N. The area should be looked upon as a small, integral constituent of a larger totality.

The study is largely based upon field surveys. Nineteen cheese factories, randomly selected, were surveyed during December 1980. The results showed only small variations between factories and so we maintain that the sample can be accepted as representative of the cheese industry as a whole.

The first part of this study describes the main aspects of the cheese industry, while the second part argues that the growth of the industry in its present form has contributed to underdevelopment, both social and economic, rather than to the real "development" of the region. The findings are necessarily far from conclusive, but the author believes that they none the less merit serious consideration.

The Sudan's economy may be described as a peripheral capitalist one with regard to the major capitalist countries of the world. Inevitably, therefore, it is in a weak position within the system and likely to suffer economic exploitation. In a similar way the White Nile area may be seen to be disadvantageously placed in relation to the centres of economic power in the Sudan, in particular vis-a-vis the Three Towns ( Khartoum, Khartoum North, and Omdurman) and the Gezira. The cheese industry illustrates clearly how the process can take place. In this case a pre-capitalist society is being invaded by the capitalist cash economy with resulting disarticulation, both economic and social, for the area. Under these circumstances resources and created wealth tend to be drained out of the area towards the metropolitan centres because of the unequal terms upon which the various places compete. This is the essence of the process discussed here and described as "economic and social underdevelopment" (El Tayeb, 1980).

The White Nile Cheese Industry

Historical Development

Cheese-making was known to the shepherds of the White Nile area long before the introduction of the method now in use in the cheese factories. Depending entirely on locally available materials and using a simple, primitive method, the shepherds made "crude" cheese by putting milk in a container and adding the seeds of a plant called gummein to make it curdle; then they filtered the water and used the solid material for food (Abdalla, 1975).

The current method of cheese manufacture was begun in 1908 when a Greek lady, Catherina Mestero, established a small home factory at Ed Dueim to produce cheese for her family, relatives, and close friends. This home factory progressively increased its cheese output and began to supply European and Egyptian officials and Greek and Egyptian merchants residing at Ed Dueim. The increased demand for cheese and the availability of cheap, fresh milk in excess of the needs of the local residents encouraged the Mestero family to abandon the home site and to build a new factory at Ed Dueim in 1925 (Al Sayed,1971). This shift in location marks the beginning of the era of commercial cheese production. In order to secure a sufficiently regular supply of milk the Mestero family persuaded increasing numbers of nearby villagers to deliver milk to them. They did this by offering not money in exchange but sugar, tea, and coffee without charge (El Tahir, 1964). Eventually, cheese production expanded and supplies reached as far as Greater Khartoum.

In 1932 the second factory in the area, but the first in the countryside, was established by Philip Kadaras at Idd el' Ud. This marked the beginning of the chase by the cheese industry after the local nomads for their milk. Kosti, another Greek, erected a factory at Ed Dueim and another one at Qoz al Ahmar in 1940. The Mestero family established a factory at Umm Bueisa in 1945, bought Kadaras' plant in 1946, and built another factory at Ed Dueim in 1947. By now there were six factories (fig. 7.1), three of which were located at Ed Dueim and four of which were owned by the Mestero family.

FIG. 7.1. White Nile cheese industry, 1947-1975

The first Sudanese to invest in cheese production in the area were the El Gizzuli family, who established a plant at Ed Dueim in 1950. Other Sudanese businessmen followed suit, particularly in the area to the south-west of Ed Dueim, in grazing areas of the Kurtan and Shenabla tribes (fig. 6.1). Increasing demand for cheese outside the region, low capital requirements, abundance of cheap fresh milk, and free land granted by the White Nile Rural Council stimulated the geographical expansion of cheese production to such an extent that by 1963 there were 39 factories in the area. In 1965 the free land concession was ended by the local authorities in an attempt to control the expansion of the cheese industry, which it was feared was already threatening the health of the nomads, whose consumption of milk (the most important ingredient of their diet) had decreased alarmingly. In spite of this the expansion of the cheese industry continued and by 1975 there were 70 cheese factories in this area.

Raw Materials and Cheese Factory Location

Although it had an urban start, the cheese industry in the White Nile area is essentially raw-material-oriented in its location because of the high perishability of milk in the absence of refrigeration and suitable means of transport, The location of the cheese industry is, therefore, a function of the availability of milk, which is, in turn, determined by the geographical distribution of water and pasture. Generally, natural pasture decreases northwards following the latitudinal incidence of rainfall; consequently, milk is more abundant in the southern part of the region, where cattle outnumber sheep and goats, than in the northern part, where sheep and goats are more numerous than cattle.

Along this east-west axis cheese factories are more numerous on the stabilized sand dunes of the western part of the area (the baja) than on the riverain area of the White Nile. The introduction and expansion of irrigated agriculture in the immediate western vicinity of the White Nile after the building of the Jebel Aulia Dam drastically reduced the natural pasture available to nomads and their animals in this area and drove them further to the west. Some of the nomads have been transformed into sedentary farmers. These settled farmers and villagers keep small numbers of animals. Now, it is only the nomads who have small numbers of cattle and sheep and who live not far from the White Nile that drive their animals down to it for water and pasture from the river banks and irrigation schemes during the dry season.

On the other hand, larger flocks of animals are kept by the nomadic pastoralists who stay for most of the year in the baja. These animals graze on the stabilized sand dunes in the west during the rainy season (July-September), and drink from pools and khors. During October, November, and December animals live on the dry grass, while in January, February, and March they feed on the stalks of the traditional rain crops: aura, dukhn, and sesame. During April, May, and June some animals are driven down to the White Nile while the larger part of the herds either wander on the dry grass of the baja or, more commonly, move southwards to graze the new shoots resulting from the early showers.

The differentiated geographical and seasonal distribution of raw material is reflected in the locational pattern and production characteristics of the cheese industry. The output of those factories located along the White Nile tends to show minor fluctuations throughout the year and to attain maximum levels during the dry season. On the other hand, the factories of the baja are highly seasonal in production and attain their maximum output during the rainy season. Seasonal variations in the availability of raw material have affected the permanence of location; the location of the cheese factories tends to be permanent along the White Nile because of the continuous supply of milk, whilst the factories on the baja change their locations following the seasonal movement of livestock. The direction and time of seasonal movement of factories varies with the initial location of the factory. Some factories, like that at La'ota, move eastward to be relocated near the White Nile from April to July, following the movement of certain nomads who spend the dry season along the river. Other factories move westward during the rainy season when cattle are numerous on the baja. For example, the Shatawi factory is moved to Ga'ci and Kaddaba from July to October. A third type is represented by the factory at El Tura' el Khadra, which was once a shifting factory but now has a permanent location there. This change in locational pattern is explained by the factory owner as the result of the diminution of the milk supply to such an extent that the economic justification for the factory movement no longer exists and instead it closes down for a part of the year.

The density of milking animals and the type of animal also affect the spatial distribution and density of cheese factories. Generally, and particularly in the northern part of the area, a village will only have one factory. However, some southern villages have more than one factory, and La'ota has three. The catchment area of one factory in the north, based upon sheep and goats, may be large enough to support three factories in the south, where cattle are the main form of livestock.

The Cheese Factory

With the expansion of the cheese industry the local health and other governmental authorities of the White Nile area became concerned about the conditions under which cheese was produced. Specified measures which must be satisfied have been agreed with the White Nile Province Commissioner for Health. These are concerned with site, adequate water supply, layout and structure, including netting, and various hygiene provisions such as an annual medical examination for the workforce. Provision is also made for inspections to ensure that the factory regulations are carried out. (Further details are given in Trilsbach, 1978.)

These standard and precautionary measures are rarely put into practice. None of the 19 factories visited conformed to the standard layout (figs. 7.2 and 7.3), and only three had bathrooms. Conditions inside the factories were generally unhygienic: workers, containers, and floors were not clean. The cheese laboratories themselves were not spacious, and were often dark with inadequate air circulation because windows are kept closed to speed up the cheese-making process and so economize on the use of yeast. None of the 26 workers interviewed had had a medical check-up during the previous three years; and inspection by the health authorities is often avoided by the factory owners, and has rarely been more than once a year.

Cheese Production

Inputs, other than fresh milk, include salt and yeast. Salt is brought from Greater Khartoum and Port Sudan and the average annual consumption per factory is about 13,775 kg. Yeast is imported from abroad.

Tools and other production requirements are invariably simple and rudimentary, having changed very little over the last 60 years.

The process itself is simple, and it is the same all over the area. It starts with the weighing and the purchase of fresh milk delivered to the factory by villagers and nomads on foot or by donkey. Milk is then tested "scientifically" (using a hydrometer) or traditionally (using the bare finger) to exclude milk which has been mixed with water. Having passed the test the milk is poured into 45-gallon barrels. Fourteen to sixteen kg of sodium chloride (salt) are put on a thin sieving cloth over which milk is poured into a clean barrel. The sodium chloride is dissolved and suspended, while dirt is kept out. In winter the milk temperature is usually raised to 40-45C by direct heating or by hot water bath to accelerate the production process, whilst in summer barrels of milk are kept at atmospheric temperature. Six grams of yeast (usually Hansen's Rennet or Danish Rennet tablets) in summer and nine grams in winter (because the lower winter temperature slows down the action) are then added to a full barrel of milk. The full barrels are covered with sheets of cloth and left for three to six hours, depending on the atmospheric temperature.

FIG. 7.2. Standard layout for cheese factories in the White Nile

FIG. 7.3. Actual layout of typical cheese factories in the White Nile. A. Quweiz. B. Mekefi. C. Shekeiri.

A thin sheet of butter (semn), weighing about 2.5 kg in summer and 1.5 kg in winter, is extracted from each barrel. The remaining curdled milk is redissolved using a wooden rod to ensure a uniform or balanced concentration of salt throughout the milk. The mixture is then poured into porous rectangular wooden boxes through which excess salty milk water perculates; these boxes are covered with sheets of cloth and left for 13 to 19 hours to let the contents solidify and dry.

Early next morning large blocks of cheese are removed from the wooden boxes, placed on wide wooden benches, cut into smaller blocks, weighed, and put into clean kerosene or benzene tin containers. Then 2 kg or 1 kg respectively of salty milk water are added to each 10 or 5 kg tin of cheese, to protect it from too rapid a deterioration. Welding of the tins is done locally, whilst painting of containers and the making and fixing of labels are usually done in Greater Khartoum, or for local sale at Ed Dueim. Almost all carry the legend "Ed Dueim Cheese' to take advantage of the reputation of the high-quality cheese historically produced by the Greeks at Ed Dueim town.

Now, as was the case before the Second World War, soft, white cheese is the main product and semn (liquid butter) is the only by-product. During the war butter and hard cheese were also produced to satisfy the needs of the British Forces in the Sudan at that time (El Tahir, 1964).

The volume of cheese produced is proportional to the amount of milk received: a barrel of fresh milk makes 4 and 3.5 tins of cheese (plus 0.5 kg of semn) in summer and winter respectively. Cheese production is highest during SeptemberDecember, moderate between April and August and lowest during January-April (fig. 7.4). Fluctuations in cheese production arise from the seasonal fluctuations in the supply of milk. The average daily supply of milk from a factory may reach 120 tins at the height of the season (SeptemberDecember), 25 tins during the moderate season (AprilAugust), and 5 tins during the lowest season (January-April). Altogether the average factory receives about 10,000 tins of milk per annum, which can be expected to produce 39,000 kg of cheese.

Labour Supply

Labour is unskilled and is generally drawn from the locality of the cheese factory, except for the head workers who may come from further afield. Women and children are not usually employed, although at El Tura'al Khadra a 10-year old boy was hired to do light work such as cleaning. The size of the labour force varies from one to six persons, depending on the supply of milk. The monthly wage of the head worker ranges from S30 (at La'ota) to S60 (at Eid al Bi'eio). Wider variations in pay appear to exist among seasonal workers, whose monthly wage was reported to vary from 39 (at Shekeiri) to S45 (at Qoz al Beidh).

Most cheese factories employ experienced head workers on a permanent basis. They are responsible for managing the entire process under the supervision of the owners. The wages of some permanent workers are reduced by 25 per cent during the low season and by 50 per cent when factories cease production. Other workers are not paid at all when factories are closed down for lack of raw material. Furthermore, some workers have to work for as much as ten hours a day without overtime and others for the whole year with no annual or weekend holidays and for no additional pay (Al Sayed,1971). This procedure is contrary to Sudan labour regulations.

Although there are a fair number of absentee owners, Trilsbach (1978) reports that 50 per cent actually worked in their own factories as head worker.

Cost of Production

Table 7.1 compares production costs in 1971 and 1980 and shows that milk remains the main item, constituting 66 and 59.5 per cent of the total costs of production in 1971 and 1980 respectively. The second highest component is the cost of empty kerosene and benzene tins.

Although the returns to the nomads from the sale of their milk and wages for labour have increased substantially, their respective shares in the total cost of production have decreased from 66 to 59.5 per cent and from 4.4 to 2.7 per cent over the nine-year period. On the other hand, the profit per ton has increased by 68 per cent. However, this is small compared with the increased costs of production, which were sixfold overall, with milk prices up more than fivefold and imported materials as much as tenfold.

The figures suggest that the average factory makes an annual profit of S29,000 from the sale of cheese and S975 from the sale of semn. It is perhaps useful to recall here that the average factory costs about S800 as fixed capital, and needs about S1,000 for operating capital.

Transport and Marketing

Milk is delivered by donkey or on foot while the transportation of cheese to the consumption centres is by truck. During the rainy season cheese is transported by boat to Khartoum, Kosti, and Juba, and from there it is distributed to other markets. All cheese must be marketed promptly during the summer period or it will be spoilt by the high temperature, since factories lack refrigeration facilities.

FIG. 7.4. Output of the Mestero cheese factories, 1962

TABLE 7.1. Average cost of producing one tin i 10 kg) of cheese

  1971 1980
S % S %
Milk 1.50 66.0 8.00 59.5
Labour 0.10 4.4 0.36 2.7
Empty tins 0.20 8.8 2.00 14.9
Salt 0.05 2.2 0.40 3.0
Yeast 0.05 2.2 0.15 1.1
Transportation 0.10 4.4 0.50 3.7
Depreciation 0.02 0.9 0.04 0.3
Taxes 0.15 6.6 0.75 5.6
Welding, painting, labelling, etc. 0.10 4.4 1.25 9.2
Total cost 2.27 99.9 13.45 100.0
Sale price 6.75   21.00  
Profit 4.48   7.55  

Source: Fieldwork; Abdalla (1975)

During winter and the kharif the lower temperatures make it possible to store part of the output locally.

Villagers and nomads habitually deliver their milk to the same factories. They have little knowledge of the price of milk outside their respective localities and so the owners of factories have a stronger say than the nomads in the deter" mination of the price. After delivering the milk, the nomads usually buy consumer goods such as sugar, tea, coffee, oil, cloth, shoes, and ombaz (oil cake) from the kanteen (shop) which is attached to most factories. The owner of the factory owns the kanteen, and is usually willing to sell to his milksuppliers a part of their consumption needs on credit, and to make loans to them.

Urbanization and the development of road transport have opened up new markets and increased the demand for cheese Local rural and nomadic communities consume less than 1 per cent of the total cheese production. Ed Dueim town and the other local urban centres consume about 9 per cent. The remaining 90 per cent is consumed outside the area. Greater Khartoum is the main consumption centre with Port Sudan (especially during pilgrimage time), Wad Medani, Kosti, Atbara, Umm Ruwaba, El Obeid, Juba, Malakal, and Wau being other important markets. Educational institutions are important consumers of cheese, and cheese sales drop significantly when schools close during the summer.

Commercial capital is increasingly employed in the distribu tion process. Some merchants and truck owners move around to buy cheese from factories, especially the smaller ones, and sell it to retailers and wholesalers in the Three

Towns and Ed Dueim. Some factory owners use their own or hired trucks to transport cheese to Greater Khartoum where they either have their own shops or sell their cheese to recognized merchants. In return, some of them buy empty tins, yeast, salt, and welding material as well as consumer goods from these merchants.

Retail cheese prices are generally 30 to 40 per cent higher in Greater Khartoum than at Ed Dueim, not only because of demand but also because of the larger number of middlemen involved in the distribution process (fig. 7.5).

The Impact of the Cheese Industry

The main transformations which have been and continue to be brought about by the cheese industry can be discussed under four headings: social change; economic change; territorial underdevelopment; and social underdevelopment.

FIG. 7.5. Cheese and the distribution process in the White Nile

Social Change

The White Nile area, which has long been the domain of the pastoral nomad, is being progressively brought into the capitalist economy. Irrigated agriculture and mechanized farming, introduced into areas which were formerly used by nomads, have not only decreased the geographical area of pasture but have also pushed the nomads westwards and northwards into less favourable areas. The concentration of animals arising from this, in an already marginal and deteriorating environment, will accelerate desert encroachment and intensify the adverse effects of desertification.

Different groups are affected differently by this process: irrigated scheme and mechanized farm owners are affected less than local rainland cultivators. The latter often have to occupy drier areas. Owners of cheese factories can more easily shift the location of their factories than can the suppliers of milk. People with large herds of animals can hire shepherds to take their animals to the wetter, southern region while nomads having small numbers of animals cannot. Under such conditions it is inevitable that some social groups, usually the better off, do better than others, so that often the poor become poorer and the rich become richer.

Economic Change

The local economy has been progressively monetized, and incorporated into the wider national and international market system.

Prior to the introduction of the cheese industry into the area, the nomads used to depend on their animal products, especially milk, and on their traditional rain cultivation for most of their requirements. Their economy was essentially subsistence and internally orientated. By its very nature capitalism has to expand into other economies which are not (or only marginally) monetized. The introduction of the cheese industry has been one important point of departure in the transformation of local economy and society in the White Nile. Money and commodity exchange were intensified through the commercialization of the main animal products, milk and wool. The use of consumer goods was also intensified when the Mestero family gave their milk suppliers sugar, tea, and coffee; next, manufactured metallic milk containers replaced the traditional leather containers made by the nomads themselves; later, due to the deterioration of natural pasture, nomads were compelled to purchase ombaz for feed, and now the nomads also depend upon the market for the purchase of oil, whereas formerly they used to process their extra milk into semn.

Furthermore, the expansion of the cheese industry has increased the use of both imported and domestically manufactured commodities. Examples of the former include barrels, empty kerosene and benzene tins, yeast, hydrometers, welding materials and zinc; internally made articles include paint, cloth sheets, salt, knives, wooden benches, and boxes.

The development of road transport linking factory sites to their main markets has aided the integration of the area into the national market economy, increased the density of flows and exchanges between the two, and progressively deepened the dependence of the former on the latter. The functioning of the local economy is now almost impossible without the circulation of money and commodity.

Territorial Underdevelopment

If monetary value is retained in the area where it is produced, the possibility of the growth and development of that locality will be high. Conversely, if it is channelled out of the area, local resources will be depleted, and locally investable funds will be transferred elsewhere. Geographical transfers of value identifiable in the area include:

Transfer of Value out of Agriculture

Ninety-five per cent of the owners of the factories surveyed had first accumulated capital in agriculture, from where it was invested in the cheese industry. This movement of capital is not only sectoral but also geographical, because capital has been taken out of the large agricultural territory of the baja and concentrated at the sites of cheese production. This investment of agricultural capital in industry has had an underdeveloping effect on agricultural land, since 80 per cent of factory owners have never reinvested any part of their capital in the promotion of the quality of their agricultural land or in its geographical extension. Only 5 per cent of factory owners had invested in the improvement of crop production through ploughing and the purchase of better seeds; the balance (15 per cent) have withdrawn altogether from agriculture.

Through the sales of milk, the purchase of consumer goods and fodder, and the taking up of wage labour, the agropastoral areas have become dependent on these cheese factories. This is rendered even more significant for the tendency of factory owners to move into commerce and develop their relationships with the metropolitan region.

Transfer of Capital from Industry to Commerce

Often a part of the accumulative capital in the cheese industry is invested in local trade. Sometimes the entire industrial capital has been moved into commerce.

The owner of the cheese factory at Al Sheikh al Hasin started his enterprise in 1959 but in 1974 he closed it down to start a commercial business at Es Sufi. Such cases would involve the transfer of capital from many villages to a few local urban centres. Often some of the capital may even be transferred to the metropolitan centres. The factory owner at Habila, on the strength of his proceeds from cheese-making, has opened his own shop in Khartoum.

There are also middlemen who purchase cheese from the smaller factories and arrange its transport to the Three Towns.

In all these cases capital, which would otherwise be available to promote the cheese industry, is channelled into commercial activities, often outside the local region in the metropolitan centre itself.

Continuous Flow of Fresh Milk to the Cheese Factories

This flow is at an annual rate of about 100,000 kg. of milk per average factory. In the past milk constituted the main item of diet for the nomads. With the creation by capital of multiple new needs and the parallel commercialization of milk to satisfy these needs, the nomads have lost the most important constituent of their diet. Reduction in the local consumption of fresh milk has been so drastic and the resulting symptoms of malnutrition have become so serious and widespread, particularly among children, that the White Nile health authorities have become reluctant to allow any further expansion of the cheese industry in the area.

Furthermore, the products of local milk are not consumed by the suppliers of that milk, since nomads and villagers consume less than 2 per cent of the total production of cheese, and the local urban centres-Ed Dueim and the small towns along the White Nile-less than 8 per cent. This means that less than 10 per cent of the total value embodied in cheese is realized within the area.

Transfer of Value out of the Region

The most significant geographical transfer of value from the White Nile area pertains to the fact that over 90 per cent of its aggregate cheese production is marketed outside the area, mainly in the Three Towns, from where almost all manufactured goods consumed by the area are imported. The unequal exchange which characterizes the flow of commodities between industrialized and underdeveloped countries at the international level is reflected in the nature of trade between the White Nile area and Greater Khartoum. The gist of unequal exchange lies in differences in the organic composition of capital. (This is derived from the equation c/v, where "c" is constant capital and "v" is variable capital-i.e. total wages.) Trade, or exchange, is to the advantage of the economy with a lower rate of surplus value, and where real wages, which are indicators of the value of labour power, are lower the rate of surplus value is higher (Janury and Garramon, 1977). The average annual wage in the cheese industry in the White Nile area is S195, while the annual minimum wage in the manufacturing industry of Greater Khartoum is S342 (i.e. the average of the former is only 57 per cent of the minimum of the latter). The organic composition of capital in the White Nile cheese industry is about 27, whilst it is only 5.2 in the manufacturing industry of Khartoum Province (El Tayeb, 1980, p. 246). Thus, the White Nile area receives relatively less "labour" in the consumer goods it imports from Greater Khartoum than it gives away through the cheese which it exports to that urban centre.

Social Underdevelopment

Communal (or tribal) structures and relationships were dominant among the nomadic communities of the White Nile area before the introduction of the cheese industry. The expansion of the cheese industry and the progressive incorporation of the local subsistence economy into the market economy has brought about significant changes. The economic transformation by capital of the nomadic economy has been simultaneously accompanied by the transformation of the nomadic society along property lines and has resulted in the concentration of property, particularly the means of production and surplus value, in the hands of a few at the expense of the large base of the populace. The notion of "social underdevelopment" (or "unequal development") here is based on the highly differentiated distribution of produced value. Some groups get a disproportionately small share of the surplus they create whilst others obtain a disproportionately large share,

Since the introduction of the cheese industry in the White Nile, the on-going process of social transformation has produced many different social groups. On the bases of social property, of the creation and appropriation of surplus value, and of sources of livelihood, four major groups can be distinguished with relationship to this industry.

Firstly, most of the inhabitants have property in land and in animals and they labour for themselves, depending for their livelihood mainly on the products of their own labour in livestock-rearing and rain cultivation, and these are the people who sell milk to the factory. The size of this category is decreasing, not only because of desertification but also because this is the base out of which most other groups emerge.

Secondly, some with small numbers of animals and/or small plots of rain-fed agricultural land provide seasonal wage labour for the cheese industry. This group depends for subsistence partly on its own or its families' means of production and property and partly on the sale of its labour. This category is small since seasonal workers, per cheese factory, vary between one and six.

Thirdly, there are those who work on a permanent basis in cheese factories (one or two per factory). Although these are permanent workers, their proletarianization, i.e. their divorce from the ownership of the means of production and property, is not complete since all of them have land which is cultivated by family labour or hired labour or which is rented out by them to others. These permanent workers resemble seasonal workers in deriving livelihood from both wages and their own means of production; but the two groups are set apart in two main respects, since the permanent workers depend more on their wages than seasonal workers, and they sometimes employ wage labour on their family land. Permanent cheesefactory employees therefore not only produce surplus value for factory owners but often appropriate surplus value created by hired labour on their own farms.

Fourthly, there are the owners of cheese factories. In their quest for maximum surplus value (i.e. profit), they have established some practices in relation to both suppliers of raw material and workers which are becoming characteristic of the cheese industry in the White Nile as a whole. Factory owners sell various consumer goods and fodder on credit to those who supply them with milk, and cash is often lent too. The nomads, on their part, feel a moral obligation to deliver their milk to this very factory to which they are indebted, sometimes irrespective of the price offered for their milk by the factory. By creating and increasing the indebtedness of the nomads, the factory owner not only secures a steady supply of milk but also enhances his capital accumulation by paying low prices for milk and charging high prices for the consumer goods and fodder which is sold to the nomads. Furthermore, as already indicated in the text, irregularities in the employment of labour (illegal under the present law) regarding working hours, holidays, and short time working conditions are employed in order to increase profit margins.

Many factory owners work either in their factory itself or in work associated with it, but others depend entirely upon hired labour. The factory owners do not constitute a homogeneous stratum but are differentiated in terms of type of property and magnitude of capital accumulation. About 85 per cent of all factory owners own cheese factories, shops, and rain-fed or irrigated agricultural land; 10 per cent have given up their land rights and confine their investment to cheese production and commerce; and the remaining 5 per cent own only cheese factories. Many of the middle group have expanded their commercial activities into Greater Khartoum, and the last group is composed mainly of those with more than one cheese factory- some even have as many as ten.

The fifth group involved with the cheese industry is the merchants who buy cheese from factories and market it mainly in the Three Towns.

The sixth and final group is composed of artisans, like tinsmiths and blacksmiths, who are hired by cheese factories to make 2-gallon containers and weld tins for cheese. Most of these folk have their own cultivation during the rainy season.


Although the cheese industry in the White Nile area is small in size, traditional in processes and rudimentary in tools, the arising transformational impacts are quite significant, and they illustrate clearly some of the general problems of rural development in developing countries. In the process of transforming a part of the economy from a largely subsistence to a monetary cash economy, new economic and social groups have developed. Because of the unequal competition between a peripheral White Nile and the Three Towns core a geographical transfer of value has taken place from the former to the latter. Within the White Nile area a similar process of transfer has gone on from the baja to the local rural cheese factory, to the local urban centre, and so on up the hierarchy and outside the region. This clearly illustrates how in many developing countries the growth centres often manage to grow at the expense of, rather than to the advantage of, their environing areas. This is the source of and meaning placed upon economic and social "underdevelopment" in this chapter. The associated overuse of grazing areas under the present system of livestock management confounds the rural situation even further.


Abdalla, A. A. 1975. "Cheese Production in the Ed Dueim Area." Unpublished B.A. dissertation. University of Khartoum, Khartoum.

Janury, A de, and C. Garramon. 1977. "Laws of Motion of Capital in the Canter-Periphery Structure." Rewiew of Radicat Political Economics, 9 (2).

Al Saved, M. H. 1971. "Cheese Production in Northern White Nile ural Area." Unpublished B.A. dissertation. University of Khartoum, Khartoum.

El Tahir, A. M. 1964. "Problems of Cheese Production around Ed Dueim." Unpublished B.A. dissertation. University of Khartoum, K hartoum,

El Tayab, G. D. 1980. "Industry and Paripharal Capitalism in the Sudan: A Geographical Analysis." Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. University of California, Los Angeles.

Trilsbach, A. 1978. "Some Comments on the White Nile Cheese Industry." Sudan Notes and Records, 59: 65-96.


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