With respect to the article authored by Mr. Muawad M Rashid, Sudan Vision, Tuesday, May 22 2018 ‘Food Security Initiative
: Hedges and Caveats’ which touched on President Al Bashir’s Initiative on Food Security in the Arab World, underway for deliberation in the agenda of the next meeting for the Arab Organization for Agricultural Development, AOAD, and the valuable insights therein. It seems permissible to address efficacy of the methodology that has been followed since the establishment of AOAD in the early1970s in order to achieve the ultimate goal of a fully integrated Arab economy. AOAD is charged with the mandate to assist member states in developing and enhancing their respective agricultural sectors. At the regional level, AOAD is to facilitate coordination amongst member states with the aim of achieving a fully integrated Arab economic union and realize food self-sufficiency; hence comes the relevance to the Presidential Initiative.
It has been mantra for economists in AOAD and other government activities, in particular at the Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning and the Central Bank of Sudan, to raise their voices of support for the Initiative, but also for everything that comes from the Presidency, irrespective of whether the essential technical and feasibility studies have been conducted. Such a track record in bureaucratic conduct of business have brought the country to a state of affairs where food security, economic stability, service delivery and job creation are perceivably threatened to the extent that is currently manifested in the failure to administer the value of local currency or secure daily doses of gasoline or diesel to commuters.
An expected outcome of an administrative mentality nurtured by a hegemonic bureaucratic mindset that infallibly believes the chief bureaucrat does know and should know everything. This mindset is detrimental to national catastrophe. The modern global economy of today is run by strict specialty, diligence and clearly set targets, to be achieved through monitoring of agreed indicators, evaluation of activities and reporting to relevant activities in order to better synchronize with other team members in the relevant circles that shape the national economy.
It is widely believed in the turf of development economics that the role of central banks and ministries of finance and economic planning, investment, trade, treasury and etc; shall collectively address the essential issues of inflation, job creation and investment.
In the Sudan this area still calls for further attention and more sync with the relevant parties.
To turn on the AOAD coming conference with respect to the Presidential Initiative on Food Security, it is appropriate to suggest that concentration of conferees should be in raising productivity of existing farming practitioners, both in the public and the private sectors rather than creating new projects that man take a decade to achieve. This new approach to policy should put into consideration obstacles facing productivity constraints in rain-fed mechanized sector and the traditional sector, which together comprise more than 80% of total area under agriculture and engaging no less than 60% of the population.
Few and simple tool kits embedded with on-the-ground extension services, to be administered by agronomists with expertise in areas of respective specialty can boost productivity in all sectors.
The 40 million square acres annually prepared in the rainy season in Sudan can easily produce the stock of grain required to stabilize the food security in the Arab countries and beyond. The name of the game is technology and application of best practice.
This is, I believe, is a better methodology to follow than creating white elephants in patchy areas that only further aggravate the misery and inefficiency routinely under pinned when addressing economies of the Arab world.
*Author of the book entitled: The New Partnership of Africa’s Development (NEPAD)