Sudanese dream of reclaiming fertile land

  • Date: 20-Mar-2021
  • Source: Kuwait Times
  • Sector:Agriculture
  • Country:Kuwait
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Sudanese dream of reclaiming fertile land

WAD KAWLI, Sudan: Under a thatched roof, Sudanese dream of returning to farmland at the heart of a decades-old dispute with Ethiopia that has turned violent and threatened to ignite a wider conflict. From the town of Wad Kawli, west of the Atbara river, the farmers used to cross the narrow stream with wooden ploughs to cultivate fertile fields in Fashaqa, a region claimed by Sudan and Ethiopia.

By the mid-1990s, they were no longer able to tend their fields after Ethiopia pushed into the contested borderlands, allowing thousands of its own farmers to take over. "Our last proper harvest of sesame crops from these fields was in 1996,“ Mohamed Omar, a community leader in Wad Kawli, told AFP. Farmers and traders long ignored the dividing map lines of colonial-era treaties.

But now the local dispute over fields of sesame and sorghum grown by smallholder farmers has put their thatch-hut villages on the front lines between two of Africa's most powerful nations, Sudan, third largest in terms of territory, and Ethiopia, the second biggest in terms of population.

The border dispute feeds into wider tensions in the region, including over Ethiopia's controversial Blue Nile dam. Ethiopia's push into Fashaqa came as its relations