Sunflower is a perennial crop with a high economic nutritional value in the Sudan. Sudan’s favorable weather conditions and its suitable soil, in particular the central clay plains, encourage the growth of this crop in both summer and winter.
In the central plains, the cooking oil producing crop is grown in the Damazin District in the South East and the District of Gedarif in the Mid-East where it is a summer rain-fed crop. It also grows as a winter irrigated crop in the irrigated farms of central Sudan.
Entrepreneur and Chairman of the Exporters Chamber in the Sudanese Businessmen Association, Mr. Wajdy Mirghani, expects sunflower oil exports to fetch $195 million in 2019 that can jump to about $365 million in 2020, if necessary measures are taken. “In view of the big world deficit in cooking oils as a result of increasing demand, the sunflower oil crop has a promising market ahead” he said.
Sunflower oil is endowed with suitable manufacturing qualities, thanks to its excellent chemical and natural properties and the high content of oil in the plant’s seeds (%40-50).
It is one of the most favorite cooking oils because it is healthy and highly nutritional. It contains fatty substances that enhance the body’s health and guard it against diseases. The oil is useful for the heart’s health for its content of monosaturated fatty acids, known as ‘good fats’, because they help cut the rate of cholesterol in the human blood.
Sunflower oil also contains vitamin 5 that guards the body against arthritis and colon, bladder, lung and skin cancers. It also maintains eye health and protects it against eye shrinking.
Sunflower seeds contain syllinum, a mineral that works with vitamin H to protect human cells from degradation. Sportsmen rub Sunflower oil for several weeks on their feet to treat injuries and to enhance the feet health in general. The oil helps with skin shine and is good for the skin health in general. In this case it is applied directly on the skin.
This oil was also found to boost the level of energy and immunity of the human body, to protect against hair fall and to enhance the health of the nervous system.
The hulls of the sunflower seed are very rich in vitamins and are, thus, used in the processing of animal and poultry fodder.
Sunflower leaves are also used as animal fodder and its flowers are processed into yellow dyes.
Mr. Mirghani told Sudanow that Sudan at the moment grows about 500,000 acres with sunflower, with yield of 250 kilograms per acre in the rain-fed sector and 350 kilograms per acre in the irrigated sector.
According to Mr. Mirghani sunflower oil is not classified within Sudan’s export crops because its output cannot even satisfy local consumption. But it can become an export crop if the production is increased.
He said the private sector has filed recommendations to the authorities to gradually raise the areas cultivated with sunflower to1.5 million acres in order to satisfy local demand for sunflower oil and provide for export. This can be attained by agricultural partnerships in the irrigated sector and by direct investment in the rain-fed sector. Mirghani has called for necessary mechanisms to be adopted to raise output per acre to 500-700 kilograms through the application of technical packages to raise vertical productivity. This can help gradually raise revenue from sunflower oil exports to $195 million in 2019 and then to about $365 million in 2020.
Wajdi Mirghani and his family invest heavily in large scale farming and crop manufacturing around the country.