Khartoum — Wheat is basically a crop of temperate zones. It flourishes best in cold weather. And when it is tried to be grown in tropical zones, it is usually cultivated in the cold winter weather.
But farmer Abdelfattah Mohammad Alsakhi has proved wheat can grow in the hot summer months of Northern Sudan, part of the arid Sahara desert. He has even achieved an output of 22 tons of the crop per acre.
From what Sakhi has done, it is possible to grow wheat all the year through.
Speaking to Sudanow Magazine, farmer Sakhi said his motive for growing wheat in summer was to “acquaint the World with Sudan’s human and material capacities, and that the people of Sudan are equipped for giving and for harnessing their minds and thought to attain what they want, making the impossible possible.”
“I also wanted to show the World that this good, bountiful land of Sudan, with its fertile lands, its minerals, its industrial potential and natural wealth can become a magnet for investors, for it to develop economically and socially to find a ranking position among the World nations,” he added.
Sakhi, is an inhabitant of Usli Bahri, Meroe locality of Sudan’s Northern State, where he was born in 1979 and grew up as a small farmer.
Ever since his childhood, Sakhi was very close to his farming father from whom he learned a lot about farming. His father was known in the district with his knowledge of astronomy, a knowledge that helped him to know the favorite times for growing this or that crop. In addition, Sakhi’s father was a skilful builder of Persian water wheels, a craft he inherited from his father.
Sakhi indulged in farming at fourteen, first constructing small crop beds in order to develop his farming skills. His father had used to discourage him from this, possibly hoping he could choose another career. But Sakhi would always return to what he liked to do. And when his father saw his zeal and talent for farming, he allocated him a space on the side of his farm to practice his hobby.
It was from here that the idea that may change the perceptions about wheat cultivation shone in Sakhi’s mind. His experiment may change formulae and tilt the balances.
Sakhi started trying on wheat cultivation in the summer of 1997 on the nearby Bajbouj Island on an area of two acres. He turned and fertilized the soil, producing 44 tons of wheat in his first experiment, all the work done under the eyes of his loving father, who passed shortly after that.
“I had really hoped my father would live to see my achievement, all won by his good guidance. My father was a school in farming, from which I take pride to have graduated, learning a lot from him,” Sakhi added in gratitude for his father.
He said he then stopped this experiment for sometime, but resumed it with resolve and determination when he gave it a second try on 8 March 2021. This experiment was also highly productive, though he used no fertilizers this time.
He said he grows the same variety of seeds in both summer and winter. That is the Egyptian Giza variety of wheat.
One of the secrets of Sakhi’s experiment is to continue to irrigate his summer wheat farm, unlike the case in winter when wheat requires less watering.
Sakhi declined to go further about his experiment for what he called “protect the newborn, successful Sudanese experiment of growing wheat in the hot summer,” further adding that: “We are also waiting for a patent from the intellectual property authority in Khartoum.”
He said his next experiment would be in July, instant, to be followed with another experiment on the first of September.
Sakhi looked optimistic, hoping the agriculture authorities would take care of what he is doing and encourage other farmers to follow suit. “At that time Sudan will really become the food basket of the world,” he said.
Part of the difficulties and challenges he went through were the sarcasm he faced that he will not be successful in growing wheat in summer. Many have tried to convince him to drop the idea altogether, in particular fellow farmers who said previous attempts to grow the crop in summer had failed. But he was determined to go ahead and when they saw the success of his first and second experiments, some famers thought to give it a try.
Sakhi is urging the government officials responsible for agriculture and the agricultural research centers and agriculture colleges to pay attention to his experiment and try to grow wheat summer in other districts, given the fact that it does not require fertilizers nor pesticides and can grow in all irrigated areas “a matter that reduces cost and increases output.”
Sakhi’s farm had impressed the director of agriculture in Meroe district, Mr. Osman Mohammad Osman, who pledged to take care of and supervise Sakhi’s experiment. “Summer wheat will be a new credit for Sudan,” Sakhi quoted Osman as telling him.