Sudan tycoon’s battle for growth
Financial Times Interview
Osama Daoud Abdellatif explains how he does business against a backdrop of sanctions and crises, writes Katrina Manson
When doctors told Osama Daoud Abdellatif, Sudan’s leading businessman, that he should take it easy and go back to tending cattle as a way to calm his ulcer, the result was all too predictable. Within months the head of Dal Group, the country’s biggest conglomerate, had hatched a plan to start Sudan’s largest and most successful dairy farm.
Now, only a few years later, Khartoum, the hot, dusty capital that is home to economic crisis, a pariah president and international sanctions, is also home to a state of the art 600,000-litre-a-day dairy processing factory. And while Mr Abdellatif was raising a herd of 50 cows just outside the capital at the time of his doctor’s advice, he now has more than 3,800 – with a further 3,000 arriving in March. Thanks to animal fodder grown on 25,500 acres of irrigated land nearby, they are also well fed, pushing milk yields 25 per cent higher than average in the western countries from which the cows have been imported.
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Sudan hopes technology will transform farming
It’s called the Oasis – Al Waha in Arabic – and that’s exactly what it looks like.The farm is an hour’s drive from the Sudanese capital Khartoum, along a tarmac road cutting through the fringes of a desert the colour of digestive biscuits.
The desolate surroundings highlight Sudan’s reputation as one of the least developed places on earth.
But the Oasis itself is an explosion of green from the drab colours around it. Vast, verdant crop circles cluster round canals bringing in water from the Blue Nile.
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