Farming in the Desert – Egypt and Sudan
23rd October 2014
Central Pivot Irrigation has been a key player in farming in the Saudi desert for the last twenty years, but now as aquifer water resources dwindle, the Saudi government is making restrictions on wheat production. The large agricultural firms are looking for other locations now to expand into with their knowledge of farming the desert.
One such location is that oldest of water resources – the Nile. Snaking its way through the Sahara from Uganda to Egypt, it has been a vital water resource for thousands of years, and still is very much so today.
With the construction of canals into the desert regions, fresh water can be pumped to areas of fertile soil in the middle of the desert. First Alfalfa is planted for two years on virgin sites, then wheat and corn are planted as winter and summer harvests for the following two years. Alfalfa makes a great alternative to barley for adding nutrients and is sold as animal feed with yields up to 12T/hectare.
This is the case of the agricultural giant, Al Rajhi International Agricultural Investment (RAII) who are winning over local favour by not only bringing jobs, food and livestock feed to the regions where they farm but also building schools and hospitals.
RAII understand the importance of getting quality machinery to work their farms, they realise that the desert is a harsh environment and the remoteness of their sites mean that spare parts and servicing is a major factor when considering capital investments. As such they use companies such as Alvan Blanch for their seed processing and Griffith Elder for their weighing equipment. Both these companies pride themselves on having rugged equipment that will last the course even when desert storms blow in. Another advantage to their systems is that they are fully containerised and on site installation is done in a blink of an eye.
The RAII sites in Sudan and Egypt currently number 300 pivots varying between 50 and 90 hectares per pivot. The rate at which RAII are expanding though this number is likely to increase three-fold over the next years.
RAII selected the portable weighbridge for the Sudan site to allow the weighbridge to be moved to appropriate locations for harvesting and when their new site at Dongola is up and running, it can placed there before a fixed installation weighbridge can be installed.