In praise of Dal

Dal Group projectWhat Dal Group (the largest private company in Sudan) is doing for agriculture in the country is pretty amazing. The agricultural projects the company has launched outside Khartoum demonstrate, in black and white, how the country is moving forwards – away from subsistence farming and into the 21st century.

Osama Daoud, chairman of the group, is, I am told, at heart a farmer – from a long line of Nubian farmers/tribal chiefs. Dal Group is also a Sudanese firm through-and-through, so unlike other foreign investors that I wrote about a couple of blog entries ago, Dal is committed to the development of the country and not just betting on when crop prices will start to rise again. This means that, as all other agricultural projects are being put on hiatus and companies decide to sit on their land for a few years without building on it, Dal is actively pumping money into the sector. Stimulating the economy and also guaranteeing that supply is met in coming years (the Food and Agricultural Organisation paint a very pessimistic view of the world’s ability to produce sufficient food in the coming years, given that firms now have limited cash to invest).

And it’s all being done with the very latest technology – a cow-monitoring system from Sweden, specially-designed greenhouses to reduce sunlight from Greece, the list goes on. It’s all looking pretty neat. They’re also taking a slight risk, because some of what they are attempting hasn’t been tried before in these conditions, and so much of it is trial-and-error. They really are leading the way.

A disappointingly small number of Sudanese workers, though, which may point to a future problem as all this really cool technology replaces the need for raw manual labour (and we are told by government statistics that 80% of Sudan’s official jobs are based around agriculture). Part of the problem is that many Sudanese, even those that have studied agriculture, don’t have the skills that Dal need at the moment – so Dal is having to bring in workers from outside. But the firm says that they will be training Sudanese too, as part of this project, so that eventually most of the farm jobs can be in the hands of the Sudanese again.

Of course, with all this technology, one is certainly not going to need as many people to achieve the same level of efficiency. But it has been clear for some time (ever since the ’60s?) that Sudan would have to move away from subsistence farming and become more commercial. Now is the time to do just that – and Dal is leading the way. They say that they get no grants or subsidies from the government (apart from the occasional tax concession on importing machinery), but, as soon as the government can see what they are doing, then they are immediately on board.

“We are showing them the way,” says one project manager at Dal. “They then choose to follow.”

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2 Responses to “In praise of Dal”

  1. gamal Says:

    i belive on all u said but i have a comment on the sudanese working on dal i knew some engineers working there as example bashab ,dr. seif , khalid madani they are very experits pepole in their aspect i saw al elifone before dal come to it and also eng. khalid devolped even he is young but he is hard worker ,full of knolwdge ,also dal use good conslutant (eng.tamam,abed alkabeer)and get some help from govenment and they have dr. salah gornas ,but at the end osama dauad is right man to invest in agric. because he have staff belive in dal ,he have the ability to change ,and he have the money.

  2. Zaki Eldin M. Fagiri Says:

    DAL GROUP is the most exciting bunch of professionals and intellectuals in many filed.

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