|30 October 1979
||15 September 1987
||21 November 1994
The Habila region was first developed for mechanized rain-fed agriculture
in 1968. The intent was to use the fertile cracking clay soils that were
not suited to traditional agriculture to address the region's chronic
food supply problems, and eventually to produce surpluses for export.
Private investment was encouraged by the government and the land was
divided into feddans (about 0.4 ha), which were then leased out
to private operators. The original leases were to be left fallow after
four years and new leases were to be let for adjacent fallow plots. The
government controls were intended to ensure the continued viability and
productivity of the cracking clay soils.
By 1979, about 147 000 ha were leased under official schemes, and the
soils proved well suited to sorghum. However, in the 1970s Sudan launched
a programme to become the bread basket of the Arab world. Production was
greatly expanded, the proportion of fallow land decreased dramatically,
and there was expansion into unsanctioned 'illegal' land.
By 1985, about 45 per cent of mechanized agriculture was located outside
sanctioned areas. Farmers interested in quick profits cultivated the land
to exhaustion, abandoned it and then recruited more.
By the mid-1990s, periods of persistent drought, internal warfare, unsustainable
methods of land use and resultant famines plagued the country. The failed
agricultural policy is clearly evident in the 1994 image. There is little
evidence of the booming croplands so prominent in 1979.
Images: Chuck Larson, USGS/EROS Data Center
Compilation: UNEP GRID Sioux Falls