Government plans to make South Sudan a major bread basket Print

agricultureBy Paul Jimbo

The government of South Sudan plans to prioritize food production in order to ensure the new nation becomes Africa’s next bread basket. The Ministry of Agriculture in the new republic is currently working on a strategy for food production that will convert South Sudan into a strategic food reserve aimed at reducing reliance on food imports.

Having exposed concerns from citizens about high food prices, poor infrastructure and lack of support for farmers in previous issues, The People’s Voice sought the response of the concerned government officials and spoke to Mr Joseph Brok Maneya, Director of Agricultural Extension at the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry.

He asserted that he wants to see South Sudan in a position to produce its on food for domestic consumption as well as being able to export surplus to neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and even Tanzania.

“Currently we are establishing the extension services which will give farmers technical help related to food production. This will also involve provision of modern farming incentives such as farm equipment, basic information and also practical training of the farmers”, says Maneya. He disclosed that the Ministry had further begun formulation of policies that will see massive sensitization of local farmers at all government administrative levels such as boma, county and state level.

Maneya listed lack of qualified agricultural personnel, insecurity in some states, poor infrastructure that hinders access to market and low literacy levels as some of the most important challenges facing the agricultural sector in the region.

“We have actually embarked on a comprehensive overhaul of the entire agricultural research and extension system to revive the once vibrant sector. We know we have the potential and we can do it. We want to prove to everyone that South Sudan can rely on agricultural production rather than the widespread belief that we are purely dependent on oil”, he said.

He added, “we have even bought tractors which have been distributed to the states and we really want to ensure that the rural farmers have the necessary farm implements and are the ones who should benefit from these services”.

He attributed the high cost of food in locals markets to the high costs of importation. “You see when we import food from say, East Africa, it becomes quite expensive locally here because importers have to factor in their costs of production, transportation, taxes and even the risks involved, and at the end of the day, it is us who suffer”, he explained.

The government, Maneya said will be able to supply individual farmers with high quality seeds on time and further advise them on proper farming techniques. This will involve training more professional extension field service workers to work closely with local people.

The People’s Voice also sought the views of Professor Joseph Mukiibi at the Ministry of Agriculture. He is actually a founder of the Uganda National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and has a wealth of experience in the field of agricultural research. He is currently the man tasked with the responsibility of developing an agricultural research strategy that will shape the future destiny of food production in the new republic of South Sudan.

“We have done a field trip and as far as I am concerned, South Sudan has the capacity to produce enough food for its own consumption and even feed the entire region without a deficit.This is virgin land and I think we have to go this way”, he asserted. Professor Mukiibi further expressed his optimism that once the country’s agricultural potential is fully explored, South Sudan could easily shift its economic backbone from oil to agriculture. “Remember we are talking of vast arable land with a potential of producing species of crop available in East and Central Africa”, Mukiibi added.

True to its role as watchdog for the ordinary citizen, The People’s Voice will be keenly monitoring the implementation of the government’s plans.