Characterization of Urban Agricultural Activities in Khartoum State, Sudan

Sahar Babiker Ahmed Abdalla


With the rapid urbanization occurring in Khartoum, there is an urgent need to produce more food to satisfy the increasing demand of the urban population. While food production in and around the city is not a new phenomenon, it has received only limited attention by scientists and policy makers. Little is known about the socio-economic conditions of the urban gardeners and their production practices. The objective of this study, therefore, was to analyze the structure of the existing gardening systems and to identify areas where further research is needed to enhance their sustainability of production. To this end, a baseline survey was conducted from March to June 2007. Forty households having gardens were purposively selected and heads of households interviewed using a semi-structured questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the socio-economic characteristics of the household’s sample. A two-step cluster analysis was performed to classify the households into homogeneous groups. Then, the identified groups were characterized using descriptive analysis.

The results revealed that urban agriculture (UA) is the exclusive domain of men. All 40 households surveyed were involved in commercial vegetable gardening, 33% were cultivating fodder crops and 5% were keeping goats and sheep. The gardeners younger than 55 years were 78% and 80% were non-native to Khartoum. Only few of them were landowners whereas 90% were running their activities under the tenant-sharecropping system. Vegetable growing was the main source of income generating activity for 83% of the gardeners. Leafy vegetables with short growth cycles such as Jew’s mallow (Corchorous olitorius L.), purslane (Portulaca oleracea L.) and rocket (Eruca sativa Mill.) were the most dominant cultivated species. The main sources for irrigation water were the River Nile (60%) and wells (37.5%). Almost all gardeners applied pesticides and mineral fertilizers. Majority of the gardens (95%) were continuously cultivated all the year around without any fallow period. Three groups of gardens were distinguished based on differences in garden activities, origin of the gardener and management practices. These are mixed vegetable-fodder gardens (10%), mixed vegetable-subsistence livestock gardens (42.5%) and pure vegetable gardens (30%).


garden diversity; management practices; socio-economics; UA; urban agriculture

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