Climate & Agriculture

The desert North

Sudan falls within the Sahara desert region. Most of the country receives little rain and vegetation is sparse.


Sandstorms (known as ‘haboob’) blow through the country and leave behind a fine reddish-yellow dust.

Temperatures in Khartoum can reach 38° C any month of the year and the capital is hot, dusty and windy.

However, rainfall increases as you travel further south. Towards the border with South Sudan, the rainy season can last for two-three months.

The Nile is a lifeline

Farmland in SudanMuch of Sudan is too dry for crops, so raising livestock is an important activity. Millions of cattle, sheep and goats are kept across the country. Some farmers are still nomadic, wandering across the land to graze their herds.

But agriculture does take place – along the Nile. Pumps bring water from the river to crops such as sorghum, millet and cereal grains. Fresh vegetables and fruit (e.g. lemons, mangoes, grapefruit, paw paws and oranges) are grown in fields all along the river. However, if the pumps break down, the high temperatures can kill trees and plants within a few days.

The Nile is an important source of fish, like Nile perch. Fishing also takes place along the Red Sea coast. Most of the catch from Sudanese fishermen is eaten locally.

Sudan’s agricultural exports

Cotton area

Most of the cotton is grown south of Khartoum, in the El Gezira region. This is a fertile plain lying between the Blue and White Niles, which has one of the largest irrigated areas on the continent.

Cash crops include peanuts, sesame seeds and cotton. Cotton is the second highest earning crop. Molasses and sugar cane are also grown.

In dry regions away from the Nile, palms provide the staple crop of dates and ‘gum arabic’ is taken from acacia trees. See ‘Economy & Industry’ to learn about this special gum.