The Hashim Hago group exports Sudanese crops like sesame and gum Arabic, while its imports include agricultural equipment and machines. Acting General Manager, Muslih Ahmed El Sanosi (MA), explains to us how, over the years, it has gained the trust of different international companies who have employed them as their agent in Sudan
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LE: Your group consists of seven companies, with the mother company originally a trading one, and so much of your activities are centred on export and import. How have the dynamics of these exports and imports changed over the years?
MA: The company used to export big quantities of sorghum, oil cakes, sesame and cotton cakes and other crops. Currently, because of rising demand inside Sudan, the exports of those crops are lower.
Now, we have 35,000 feddans in the Blue Nile State in a rain-fed agricultural area where we grow the crops we export. In our agricultural activity, we have three projects underway at the moment. We have expanded our agricultural activities to West Omdurman and are currently working on 5,000 feddans with the capacity not just for agriculture but also for meat processing; we are very keen to take advantage of Sudan’s animal resources.
Lastly, we have an interesting agriculture project in Madani city in Sennar State through which we provide a set of umbrella services to the different agricultural schemes in Sudan. Hashim Hago was the first company to provide services for the different agricultural schemes in Sudan. Such work might involve, for example, putting tractors at the disposal of public and private sector companies. We carefully select best practices from other sectors and then adapt them to best serve the unique characteristics of our projects. Tailoring these concepts to agriculture is critical: the sector is diverse, locally individualised, seasonal, geographically disperse, and subject to a high degree of operational uncertainty. We also support our agricultural activities by providing storage facilities, located across Sudan in areas such as Sennar, Port Sudan and Obeid.
LE: What other types of project are you working on?
MA: Well, the Hashim Hago group is also active in the earth-moving and construction business (building roads), as well as in the transport and industrial sectors. In the industrial field, we moved into plastics and edible oils. For plastics, we have one factory that is already operational (White Nile Plastics) and one factory that is still under construction. There is great opportunity in this region for the manufacturing of edible oils, and that is why we are constructing a new factory in Khartoum South (Soba), specifically for this area.
The critical demand for food is creating opportunities for agricultural investment worldwide, and a keen appetite to improve productivity
LE: Where would you like to see Foreign Direct Investors add value to the Hashim Hago Group?
MA: There are several projects in the pipeline where support would be invaluable. In one, the edible oils project, the infrastructure is already complete. We still have to acquire the machinery for this project, so investors could still approach us to form a partnership. The market for edible oils in Sudan and the Arab world in general is large, and we want to take advantage of our strategic location to supply both Sudan and the region with this product.
Secondly, we have a project to open a plastic factory, for which we are specifically seeking machinery suppliers and general investment. Regarding the previously mentioned agricultural project in West Omdurman of 5000 feddans, we are looking for partners with the capital to invest. We have the experience and know-how to capitalise on the agricultural opportunities in this country. In this same area, there is an opportunity for a meat processing plant, taking advantage of Sudan’s incredible animal resources.
All our projects need technology and financing: partners that can supply us with the latest technology in the fields I have mentioned and also help us find the necessary financial resources. The critical demand for food is creating opportunities for agricultural investment worldwide, and a keen appetite to improve productivity. The biggest global challenge of our times is ensuring that food supply keeps up with demand.
LE: What makes the Hashim Hago group a good potential partner?
MA: We have a variety of projects in different sectors, but financing provided by local institutions is weak. Sudanese financial institutions are generally unable to finance the large-scale projects that our group is doing, and for that reason we need international investors to finance our ambitious projects. We have over 40 years’ experience and the facilities in place so that every investor coming to Sudan can make a great return on their investment. The Hashim Hago group would be particularly keen to form partnerships with European technology companies.