Juba, South Sudan,
June 17, 2021 – Agriculture has remained the most underfunded and supported sector in South Sudan since the country attained independence in 2011, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has lamented.
At a three-day Consultative Conference on Agriculture and Food Security 2021 held in Juba under the theme ‘LET’S PRODUCE WHAT WE EAT’, the ministry said despite agriculture being the backbone of South Sudan, little effort has been made to support the sector.
“South Sudan needs to double its efforts in giving significant support to agriculture research, extension services provision and inputs to support smallholder farmers, in addition to improvement of road infrastructure and marketing channels and above all, the implementation of policies that favor public-private partnerships in agricultural development for robust and vibrant agricultural enterprises,” the ministry says.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security, headed by Betty Achan Ogwaro, says the majority of South Sudanese rely on agriculture for sustainable livelihood.
“Realistically, in South Sudan, agriculture is the backbone and a hope for economic growth and improved livelihood accounting for 36% of non-oil gross domestic products,” the statement says.
“It is the mainstay for the 80% of the population who are rural and practice subsistent farming with inadequate research, extension services, improved seeds, and technologies as well as financial assistance and loan provision,” it adds.
The ministry warns that the total reliance on oil by the government as its major source of revenue could backfire with the future of oil hanging in balance in the global market.
“Currently, the world oil price which is the major source of government income is low and may continue to be low for an unforeseeable period. This poses a shaky and gloomy future for the nation,” it warns.
South Sudan has experienced intercommunal clashes and humanitarian catastrophes in recent years and the Ministry says food insecurity is partly to blame.
“The present food crisis caused by price volatility due to shortage of food as a result of inadequate production or political instability in production areas has caused widespread food insecurity, poverty, more violent conflicts, and national political instability.”
The Ministry says the country has not made use of its infinite water sources for agriculture and called for a shift to a mechanized system of farming if increased crop productivity is to be achieved.
“It is to be realized that the country is in dire need of utilization of its abundant water resources and rainwater harvests for irrigation purposes. This also calls for the need for the adoption of mechanized farming and animal traction as one important pillar for increased food security,” it says.
South Sudan has been allocating only one percent of its annual budgets to agriculture in a country of 13 million people. The country has gone for nearly two years now without national budgets, which means even the inadequate allocation of funds has completely cut off as citizens survive on humanitarian food donations.
However, the Vice President for the Economic Cluster Dr. James Wani Igga said, the budget for agriculture will scale up to 10% when parliament makes its first presentation on a day yet to be fixed.