Pakistan & Middle East's leading
Business Web Portal

News Local News

Loading the player...

Sudan holds food festival to promote local supply and demand.

Sudan recently hosted a culinary festival to promote traditional food and its producers as part of an initiative to make the country more self reliant in the face or rising food costs.
Sudan produces too little to feed its 32 million people. Even basic food imports such as wheat arrive by ship in Port Sudan before they get trucked for days across the vast country, spurring food price inflation.
The three-day festival was organised by Dal Group, the largest food company in Sudan.
Officials from DAL say they are producing homegrown alternatives to imports - like a popular local Hibiscus drink known as Karkadi, which has also been tipped for export as a 'Made in Sudan' product.
"We started producing several types of traditional food and juices for the market. Some of these products will be in the market very soon. All of it is traditional and depends on local inputs and this is the main goal of the festival. We want to promote Sudan's traditional food so that we can achieve self-sufficiency through these local products," said Fathi Osman, Dal's Social Partnerships Manager.
Sudan has been struggling with an economic crisis, rising inflation and cost of living since losing much of its oil reserves - the main source for revenues and dollars needed for imports - when South Sudan became independent in 2011.
Prized for its fertile land and easy access to irrigation water from the Nile, Sudan has been trying to attract farmland and livestock investment from local and foreign investors like Gulf Arab firms seeking to secure food supplies for their arid oil-producing countries.
The country wants to prioritise agriculture to target self sufficiency by 2015.
Researchers say traditional markets sell more than 85 percent of the food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa, and that governments should invest in local vendors to improve food supply, rather than rely on imports.
Safia Mukhtar, an exhibitor at the Sudan food festival said local food is far better value for money and much more nutritious.
"Traditional food costs less than the take-away sandwiches. I hope that people can go back to appreciating traditional meals," said Mukhtar.
Young Sudanese are also being urged to take up the production and promotion of local cuisine and food stuffs as part of the initiative.
"The food is very nice but the problem with our generation is that we don't know how to cook it. Most of my friends do not know how to cook traditional food," said Iman Adil, a university student.
The festival was also aimed at reviving tradition and promoting Sudanese culture. Visitors had a chance to see how indigenous foods are prepared by different communities as well as how they are preserved.
Visitors said the festival reminded them of the years when Sudan was considered a "food basket" for the Arab world, owing to its vast fertile lands.
"The crisis we are in now is because we have deviated from our roots as an agricultural country in the first place. I believe that the crops that were grown in Sudan and then taken out of the country now in high demand internationally. Sudan can be labeled as a 'food basket' because of the value of its lands and the food we produce can be for export," said Sudanese Journalist Mashair Abdul Karim.
One of the exhibitors at the festival was a man with his donkey, pressing oil out of sesame seeds. Cooking oil is one of the commodities that has in the past been highly sensitive to price hikes.
Organizers said they want the event to be held regularly and to draw the attention of Sudan's urban dwellers to not-so-new food solutions that cost less and have higher health benefits.

view moreEvents

view moreInterviews

view moreIslamic Finance Education