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Missed Opportunities: The Failure ofIntensification and Diversification in the Gezira Scheme Anthony Q. Cheeseboro Murray State University This essay is concerned with the diversification and intensification programs of the Gezira Board during the 1960s. Intensification and diversification , as the names indicate, were attempts to increase the amount of produce actually grown within the Gezira, as well as an attempt to broaden the variety of crops produced there. In particular, these programs concentrated upon wheat as an import substitute, and peanuts as an additional export crop. Although the goals of intensification and diversification seemed reasonable, the program was ultimately a failure. The general conclusion reached in this paper is that due to political instability during the 1960s it was impossible for the Sudan in general, and Gezira Board in particular, to develop and maintain a consistent economic policy. Therefore, no matter how well intentioned intensification and diversification programs were, they were doomed to failure. Background of the Gezira Scheme The Gezira region had traditionally been an area of significant grain production since the period of the Funj.1 During the period of TurcoEgyptian occupation of Sudan, there were attempts at introducing cotton on a commercial basis.2 However, it was under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium that the modern Gezira Scheme was developed. The first proposal for a scheme was made by Sir William Garstin, after he had carried out a hydrographie survey of the Blue and White Niles from 1899 to┬░ Northeast African Studies (ISSN 0740-9133) Vol. 1, Nos. 2-3 (New Series) 1994, pp. 49-73 49 50 Anthony Q. Cheeseboro 1903.3 Garstin proposed a gravity-fed irrigation scheme on the Blue Nile that would be ideal for cotton. At roughly the same time, the British Cotton Growers Association (BCGA) began to push for more imperial territory to be devoted to long-staple cotton. The reason behind its push for increased long-staple cotton production stemmed from the needs of the British textile industry, which was being squeezed out of lower priced cotton cloth and was being forced to concentrate more heavily on expensive cotton fabrics which were made from long-staple cotton.4 Parliament approved a loan for the Gezira. Scheme in 1913; however, its construction was delayed by World War I, and it finally became operational in the 1920s. From that time until the 1960s, the sole commercial focus of the Gezira was cotton. However, as the Sudan began to move toward independence in the 1950s, the monocrop policy of the Gezira began to be viewed as a serious weakness. This was especially true because of several slumps experienced by the price of cotton during the 1950s, which were attributed to the economic slowdown after the Korean War, and increasing interest in synthetic fibers. The Nile Waters Agreement, which was reached between the Sudanese and Egyptians in 1959, appeared to contain within it the key to solving the problem of the Gezira's monocrop regime. Since it would allow for an increased amount of Nile water to be allotted to the Sudan, there would now be the possibility ofgrowing cash crops other than cotton. The Political Situation in Sudan, 1960-1965 The Sudan began the 1960s with the military regime of General Abboud in control of the country. Although his regime was quite popular when it first took power in 1958, the government's public support declined throughout the early 1960s. This decline was the result of steadily worsening conflict in the Southern Sudan and economic decline in the country's heartland. By 1961, The Front of Opposition Parties was formed. It was composed not only of communists, students, and labor activists, it also drew members from the major mainstream parties of Sudan with the exception of the Khatmiyya.5 The Front protested the brutal treatment of unionists and the general suppression of the democratic process. Missed Opportunities 51 The Front sent two memoranda to the government accusing it of oppressive tactics.6 These protests led to negotiations between the Front and the government, but the results of these talks were inconclusive. As the general feeling of dissatisfaction with the government gained great momentum, popular discontent was expressed in a number of ways. One of the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-6574
Print ISSN
0740-9133
Pages
pp. 49-73
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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