The soil, mainly alluvial, is naturally very fertile, and wherever cultivated yields abundant crops, durra being the principal grain grown.
The inhabitants of the plains and foothills are for the most part semi-nomad shepherds, living on durra and milk.
Little bread is eaten, the Abyssinian preferring a thin cake of durra meal or teff, kneaded with water and exposed to the sun till the dough begins to rise, when it is baked.
In diameter, which lift the water to a trough at the top of the dam, whence it is distributed among the gardens and melon patches, rice, cotton, tobacco, liquorice and durra fields, between the immediate bed of the river and the rocky banks which shut it out from the desert.
Known as durra is now cultivated over the entire continent, and has become the most important cereal; the natives also chew the stem, which contains sugar.
Of crops the vilayet produces wheat (which is indigenous), rice, barley (which takes the place of oats as food for horses), durra (a coarse, maize-like grain), sesame, cotton and tobacco; of fruits, the date, orange, lemon, fig, banana and pomegranate.
White durra of excellent quality is raised.
On lands near the rivers the durra is sown after the flood has gone down and also at the beginning of the rainy season.