As Sudan wheat demand soars, Buhler supplies new milling infrastructure

by Emily Wilson
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In recent years, Sudanese eating habits have shifted from the traditional, locally-grown sorghum to wheat, the majority of which is imported to meet domestic needs. Sorghum, still the staple food in rural areas, forms the basis for making Sudan’s traditional flat loaves.

A recent government program to mix sorghum with wheat in an effort to reduce wheat imports has actually increased wheat demand.

Today, Sudan has 30 million people belonging to about 570 different tribes. If the current annual population growth of 2.9% continues, Sudan’s population is expected to surge beyond 60 million by the year 2025.

As a result, the Sudanese government has begun taking steps to secure adequate food supplies for the country’s population. With harsh wheat growing conditions and large harvest shortfalls in the past few years, Sudan’s domestic wheat supplies are inadequate to meet demand, requiring most wheat to be imported from Australia, Canada or the United States.

Preparing to meet the growing demand for wheat flour, the Sudanese flour milling industry has invested large sums over the past few years developing the necessary infrastructure to handle these growing wheat imports. Since 1996, Buhler AG, Uzwil, Switzerland, has built extensive grain processing facilities for five milling companies in Sudan — Sayga Flour Mills, Red Sea Flour Mills, Wheata Industrial Company, Atbara Flour Mills, and Fadul Tour El Dabba. The five mills have constructed and updated a total of ten milling systems using Buhler technology. Combined, the mills process over 1.3 million tonnes of wheat into flour each year.

Buhler also was commissioned to construct large ship unloading facilities in Port Sudan.

As Sudan has relaxed its economic and financial policies, prices formerly fixed by the state are increasingly governed by market forces. Many milling companies have decided not to rely on the state’s wheat stocks in Port Sudan and have begun importing grain on their own, Buhler said. More than 1,200 tonnes of grain is moved daily by trucks from Port Sudan to Sayga Flour Mills’ production facilities in the capital of Kharthoum. Others will follow when the mills of Wheata Industrial go into operation, Buhler said.

"It is hoped that the Sudanese quality of life will improve as the political climate is further relaxed," Buhler said.

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