As Darfur Starves, Sudan Exports Staples

Exports crops to rich nations, still gets aid
By Michael Foreman,  Newser User
Posted Aug 10, 2008 12:35 PM CDT
In this file photo, women gather at a makeshift camp in West Darfur, Sudan. The UN struggles to feed 2.5 million Darfurians as the government exports important staple crops.    (AP Photo/Ben Curtis, File)
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(Newser) – As the UN trucks in food to millions of starving people in Darfur, Sudan is exporting important staple crops to other nations, the New York Times reports. Critics charge the government profits on big agribusiness while receiving more free food in aid than any other nation in the world. But Sudanese officials claim it marks a move away from an oil-based economy toward agricultural self-sufficiency.

Foreign investors have begun flooding into Sudan, setting up large, mechanized farms that displace small local farmers. Despite rising malnutrition rates in Darfur, the country exports its sorghum, wheat, and tomatoes to prosperous nations such as Saudi Arabia. Sudan could become the "breadbasket of Africa," said a UN expert. But an American professor blasted the current situation as a way the Sudanese government "enriches itself while the marginalized regions of the country suffer from terrible poverty.”