By Tahani Karrar of Zawya Dow Jones
DUBAI (Zawya Dow Jones)--The Sudanese delegation to the Arab League is urging the pan-Arab organization to set up a food security fund worth at least $50 billion to ensure stable future food supplies, a Sudanese official said.
"We submitted a recommendation for a $50 billion pan-Arab food security fund that will channel investments into countries with large land masses such as Sudan, Syria and Morocco," Ahmed Ali Geneif, the food security consultant for the Sudanese delegation, told Zawya Dow Jones in an exclusive interview this week.
If approved by the Arab Authority for Agriculture Investment and Development, the funds will be dispensed over a period of 10 years and could see a transfer of $10 billion to Sudan where 3 million hectares of irrigated land will be harvested in the country's north, including in the Blue Nile and White Nile states of Kordofan and Dongolla, Geneif said.
He added that the Sudanese government is continuing reforms regarding macroeconomic policies such as phasing out taxes and introduction of a 5% royalty fee on agricultural produce, and actively encouraging foreign investment into the sector.
"It is now easier for foreign investors to come to Sudan and land is given to them at a nominal price," Jeneif added. "This is because the economy will get indirect benefits such as job creation, transfer of skills and the strengthening of Sudan's agriculture industry."
In the first half of 2008, the Sudanese government launched the Agricultural Revival Program, a four-year program aimed at facilitating agricultural production by improving infrastructure in agricultural regions and attracting foreign investors, particularly those from the Arab world.