Sudan - Country Commercial Guide
Food and Agriculture Value Chains

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country.  Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-02-12

Sudan has continued to be an attractive market for U.S.-manufactured agricultural machinery, pivot irrigation systems, and seeds adaptable to Sudan’s climate.  Sudan’s major dairies have purchased thousands of American-bred dairy cattle in recent years.  Currently, about 20 million hectares are under cultivation in Sudan; however, 84 million hectares are suitable for agriculture.  Rain-fed traditional farming practices continue to dominate, but large-scale mechanized farming is growing, especially along the Nile River and its tributaries.  There is a robust market for American-manufactured irrigation systems, water pumps, and well-drilling equipment. 

Sudan’s main agricultural sectors are the irrigated sector, rain-fed mechanized, traditional rain-fed, and livestock sectors.  The irrigated agriculture sector area was about two million hectares in 2015.  Approximately 93 percent of the irrigated area was in government projects; the remaining seven percent belonging to private owners.  The area under rain-fed mechanized systems covers about six million hectares in the states of Gedaref, Blue Nile, Upper Nile, Sinnar, and South Kordofan.  Mechanized farms are usually well over 420 hectares.  In this sector land preparation, seeding, and most threshing are mechanized, whereas, weeding, harvesting, and some threshing are done manually by seasonal labor.  The traditional rain-fed farming sector includes nomadic, transhumant (moving with animals and growing short-maturity subsistence crops), and sedentary farming systems that also includes a significant number of livestock (cattle, sheep, goats, and camels).  The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates of animal resources were around 166 million heads in 2019 that contributed to 45 percent of total agriculture sector GDP.  According to Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources production of sorghum and millet in 2019 was reportedly 36 percent below the record 2018 output of 14 million tons.   Wheat production in 2019 was roughly 600,000 metric tons and the government estimates the 2020 crop at 700,000 metric tons.  However, environmental events in 2020, primarily record flooding in August-September, will likely reduce 2020’s annual yield to 2019 levels.  

Sudan, the largest exporter of crude gum Arabic, accounts for over two-thirds of the global market.  This hardened sap harvested from acacia trees is a key ingredient in soft drink syrups, candies, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.  The Gum Arabic Council reported that formal gum Arabic exports in 2018 amounted to 75,000 tons, while informal exports accounted for another 30,000 tons. 

According to 2019 trade statistics published by World Integrated Trade Solutions (WITS), Sudan’s agricultural imports originate from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and China.

In 2017, Sudan was added to the Department of Agriculture’s list of countries eligible for the Export Credit Guarantee Program that provides credit guarantees to encourage financing of commercial exports of U.S. agricultural products.  By reducing financial risk to lenders, credit guarantees encourage exports to buyers in countries — mainly developing countries — that have sufficient financial strength to have foreign exchange available for scheduled payments.  This program is available to U.S. producers of high-value, consumer-oriented, processed products such as frozen foods, fresh produce, meats, condiments; intermediate products such as hides, flour and paper products; and bulk products such as grains, oilseeds and rice.