Making hibiscus (karkadeh) markets work for poor farmers
North Kordofan and North Darfur
Hibiscus (locally known as Karkadeh) is a cash crop with great potential for small scale farmers in Sudan. A project for improving the production and marketing of hibiscus has been implemented for the past two years in Kordufan and partially in Darfur.
The hibiscus is a flowering plant that is native to warm and tropical climates. It is used in a diverse number of ways - from paper making to herbal teas and jams. Poor (mainly female) farmers in Sudan do not receive good and fair return for their efforts due to their lack of knowledge, techniques and technologies to produce a good quality product, their lack of organisation and the unfavourable taxation and policy regulations imposed on small scale producers.
Practical Action is supporting 40,000 poor farmers to produce, process and market a better quality product that will, in turn, acquire a larger share of the market at a much higher and fairer price.
Farmers were organised in community-based organisations (CBOs), and improved tools and selected seeds were provided. Stores were built in five areas and supported by the establishment a revolving fund for the purchase of the hibiscus products at harvest time and to be sold later in the season when the prices improve.
The achievements so far can be summarised as follows:
- Established a hibiscus forum to advice and influence polices
- Organised farmers in community based organizations
- Extended necessary training and provision of community managed tools, seeds and extension services
- Appropriate seeds, in terms of productivity and suitability to the local conditions, were selected and recommended to the farmers to grow
- Provision of 3.2 tons of Karkadeh seeds
- Supporting the Karkadeh farmers on cultivating 30 feddans of land
- Printing and distributing a manual for hibiscus cultivation and harvesting
- Karkadeh harvest and post harvest training held to introduce them to new tools and technologies for harvesting
- Distribution of Karkadeh harvesting tools to the farmers
- Karkadeh store constructed in Al-fashir WDAN centre for Darelsalam and Rural Al-fashir Karkadeh farmers
- Hibiscus committees established in all target villages (men & women) these committees will be responsible for handling all Hibiscus concerns and activities in their areas. Representative from each brought together to form Zone development committee (ZDC), the aim of this committee is to link together the project rural areas of Darelsalem, El Fashir and Kordofan State
- Necessary links with research institutes, the Ministry of Agriculture and Karkade traders and exporters were facilitated.
Over 7 tons of hibiscus was harvested in this new way as per the international market requirements and has been produced and sold to exporters via farmers groups. An intensive extension campaign is planned to persuade more farmers to adopt the recommended extension package. Hibiscus is now sold in crop markets the same as other important Sudanese crops such as gum arabic, groundnuts and sesame which has led to considerable improvement in the quality of the product.
This project is part of Practical Action Sudan's Markets & livelihoods programme
Read more about this project in the Sharing newsletter:
Challenges and future vision of the General Karkade Farmer's Producers Union KFPU April 2009
Experiences from the Making Hibiscus Markets Work for Poor Farmers project in North Kordofan state.
Dafur famers need to diversify - releasing the potential of Karkadeh - July 2003
In the markets of Darfur, competition is driving down prices, and as a result, incomes are also dropping. One way of breaking the cycle is to diversify.