KHARTOUM, April 5 Egypt and Sudan want to launch joint farming, livestock and biofuel projects to help double bilateral trade, Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi said on Friday during his first visit to Khartoum.
Sudan imports much of its food from Egypt, especially fruit such as strawberry and oranges, as the African country produces too little to feed its population of 32 million. Even fruit juices and yoghurt products come from Egypt.
Sudan, known for its fertile land, has sought to attract more investment to its agricultural sector to lower the import bill amid a severe economic crisis. Khartoum has granted Egyptian firms special trade privileges.
Sudan will provide Egyptian investors with 2 million feddan (roughly equivalent to 2 million acres) of land north of the capital Khartoum to set up an industrial complex to produce biofuel, drugs and other goods, Mursi said at the end of a two-day visit to Khartoum.
Both countries also plan farming and livestock projects and a 500-feddan farm for agricultural research to stimulate Egyptian investments, Mursi and Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said at a joint news conference.
"We have agreed to look for opportunities to benefit from our resources ... and start joint farming and livestock projects," Mursi told reporters.
Both governments hope trade will get a boost from the first direct road link between the neighbours which will be opened soon, Mursi and Bashir said. Two more cross-border roads are being built.
The two leaders also said they had agreed to link both countries by railway, though the track on the Sudanese side of the border must first be repaired.
Egypt has sought to boost ties with Sudan, counting on Khartoum to preserve its share of the Nile, Egypt's main source of water.
Sudan has supported Egypt, which gets the bulk of Nile water under colonial-era treaties, but Cairo is worried that South Sudan, which seceded from Khartoum in 2011, might back east African nations who want a greater share, analysts say. (Reporting by Khalid Abdelaziz; Writing by Ulf Laessing in Cairo; editing by Jim Marshall)