JUBA, 23 April 2015: With abundant natural resources, South Sudan has enormous potential to overcome poverty and secure a prosperous future for its people. Agriculture, on which an estimated three-quarters of the population relies, is key to driving this economic growth. However, many South Sudanese lack the means and training to improve food production.
Since the 1970s, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been working closely with local communities and with state and federal line ministries to increase agricultural production and productivity, while protecting South Sudan’s valuable resources. Through a range of initiatives, FAO is working hand-in-hand with the people of South Sudan to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition and build the foundations for sustainable growth. FAO continues to develop the ministries’ capacities to provide crucial advisory services, training and information to farmers, fishers, foresters and livestock owners.
Farmers and herders need information about rainfall, inputs, market demand, migration routes and disease outbreaks. Ministries and their partners need information on food production, gaps and the prevalence of hunger and malnutrition so they can direct support to the most vulnerable. FAO thus works closely with national institutions to improve the quality and availability of information on food security in South Sudan through, for example training Ministry staff in data collection and analysis, conducting crop assessments and supporting the development and use of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system to analyse food security and nutrition.
In line with the Government’s National Agriculture and Livestock Extension Policy and collaborating with line ministries, FAO is helping to build a sustainable agriculture sector in South Sudan that can drive future economic growth. Using new technologies, farmers are being supported to modernize production and increase productivity. Training on business management and better market linkages are enhancing their incomes and building stronger local economies.
Through “pastoralist field schools”, FAO is strengthening livestock owners’ knowledge. Working closely with trained extension officers, the schools provide pastoralists with an opportunity to learn, experiment, and receive support services in a community atmosphere. FAO works with the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Industries to improve animal husbandry and health and monitor and tackle livestock disease outbreaks – over 200 Ministry staff have so far been trained to identify, report and track livestock diseases, while 1 350 local herders have been trained and equipped as community animal health workers to provide basic assistance to their communities in the last two years.
Even short-term projects have longer-term impacts. In areas of South Sudan where levels of hunger and malnutrition are particularly high, FAO is providing almost 500 000 families with good quality crop and vegetable seeds, tools and fishing equipment, enabling them to quickly produce food for their families and communities. About one-third of the seeds (1 400 tonnes) have been purchased from farmers in other parts of South Sudan, who participated in previous FAO programmes that focused on building a robust, quality seed production system. With training and initial inputs from FAO, these farmers are now producing and selling seeds to their communities, as well as to other NGO programmes. Extremely vulnerable people are receiving vouchers from FAO that they can use to “buy” milk, vegetables and fish from local producers, which improves their nutrition, while supporting local economies. Through vaccination and treatment campaigns, livestock are protected from diseases and their overall condition is improved.
FAO’s support to the people of South Sudan has been possible thanks to generous funding from the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, the Common Humanitarian Fund for South Sudan, the European Union, the Governments of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Spain, the Swiss Confederation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America, as well as the World Food Programme’s Administered Trust Fund and through FAO’s internal funding mechanisms. Given the critical role of agriculture for overcoming poverty and food insecurity, FAO is committed to continue working closely with the people of South Sudan.