South Sudan’s government in partnership with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on Wednesday launched the 2022-24 program focused on boosting food production and strengthening community resilience.
Josephine Lagu, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, said the two-year South Sudan Emergency Food Production Program (SSEFPP) will focus on production of sorghum, cowpea and rice in the states of Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Western Bahr El Ghazal, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Upper Nile states.
“The number of counties that are going to be supported I think are about 9 or more and this will be spread across our country, it is not going just to be limited to one state, as you have seen we have people who have come from Western Bahr El Ghazal, Northern Bahr El Ghazal, Jonglei, and Western Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria state,” Lagu told journalists in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
The program is funded to a tune of 8.4 million U.S dollars by AfDB through it Transition Support Facility and will be implemented by the South Sudan government and the UN Food Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Meschak Malo, Country Representative of FAO, disclosed that this program aims to reduce South Sudan’s current annual food- deficit standing at 545,000 metric tons by increasing production within the next two years to the target of 1.3 million metric tons needed to reduce prevailing food insecurity.
“This country needs about 1.3 million metric tons of food annually, last year it was able to produce 800,000 metric tons, so it is very important that the country is able to produce it’s own food and be able to exit from food aid so this program contributes towards that,” Malo said.
He noted that the current urbanization growth in the country as it recovers from years of conflict would lead to huge demand for wheat, adding that the wheat component needs to also be supported under this program.
“We are also going to pilot with wheat at the request of the minister, hoping to get lessons that can propel us further to look at wheat because wheat is an important component,” Malo said.
South Sudan imports wheat from neighboring Sudan which in turn imports from Ukraine.
Malo disclosed that SSEFPP program includes distribution of seeds to farmers in the counties.
Flavio A. Soares da Gama, AfDB Principal Country Economist, said the program will also strengthen the resilience of food systems and mitigate short-term risks due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
“Our current strategy of AfDB that covers the period of 2022-2024 is a response to the government of South Sudan on pushing this development agenda on agriculture, and it’s focus on agriculture value- chain development for economic diversification and resilience,” Gama said.
The United Nations in it’s South Sudan Food Security Outlook, June 2022 to January 2023, said food security is expected to deteriorate between June and September, due to the impacts of conflict and flooding, as well as global economic supply chain disruptions, which will in turn drive high staple food prices and limited income-earning opportunities