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Award-winning machine boosts sorghum farming in Sudan

April 28, 2016

An innovative planter that can make ridges and sow seeds at the bottom of the furrows at the same time is set to boost productivity of sorghum farming in Sudan.

Planting sorghum at the bottom of furrows has been recommended as a way to conserve soil moisture in areas of low and unreliable rainfall, such as Eastern Sudan. Until now, however, farmers in the region have lacked the tools to do this.

The new planter, developed by researchers at Sudan’s Agricultural Research Corporation, has been named WaHIP. Standing for "water harvesting in rows planter," the acronym is synonymous with the Arabic for "giver."

Sowing sorghum seeds with the moisture-conserving WaHIP has resulted in significantly taller plants and higher yields than when other available tools are used. The machine can be drawn by tractors that are in common use in the area.

WaHIP has created a buzz among farmers and local companies, who have produced some of the machines from locally available materials. The Ministry of Agriculture in Gedarif, where WaHIP was piloted, has manufactured demonstration planters to show across the state. Plans are now under way to mass-produce the machine in Turkey for the Sudanese market.

The planter has also led to an award for lead researcher Lotfie Yousif, who last year received a $5,000 first prize in the Innovation Contest in Knowledge Sharing in Agricultural and Rural Development in the MENA Region. 

WaHIP was developed under the Climate Change Adaptation in Africa (CCAA) program, a six-year joint initiative of IDRC and the UK Department for International Development that ended in 2012. The program sought to improve the capacity of African people and organizations to adapt to climate change in ways that benefit the most vulnerable.

Read an interactive report on the CCAA program, New Pathways to Resilience.