Sudan to expand food exports to help overcome crisis


Cash-strapped Sudan plans to expand food exports to help compensate for the loss of oil revenues, a government minister told state media.

The African country is fighting a severe economic crisis with spiralling inflation and a scarcity of dollars which has triggered small protests in the capital Khartoum.

Sudan lost most of its oil production — the main source of state revenues — when its former civil war foe South Sudan became independent in July under a 2005 peace agreement, Reuters reports.

To find new revenues the government plans to increase exports of meat, livestock, fish and animal hides next year, Animal Resources and Fishery Minister Faisal Ibrahim told parliament, according to state news agency SUNA.

Sudan had made $219.5 million from livestock exports so far in 2011, he said. Livestock exports would rise next year to 3.24 million animals in addition to 42 tonnes of meat. Fish exports would rise to more than 58 tonnes, he said, without giving a comparison.

Analysts say boosting food exports might increase revenues but could also fuel inflation as meat prices have sharply gone up this year. Some traders blame exports for high prices.

In September, a consumer protection agency called for a boycott to buy meat for three days to protest against food rising inflation. Since then meat prices have eased slightly.

Developing the agricultural sector is one of the country’s priorities apart from boosting exports of gold and other minerals. Experts say the pace of economic diversification has been slow due to corruption, mismanagement and U.S. trade sanctions.