WFP, South Sudan sign deal to implement agriculture master plan
Josephine Lagu Yanga, minister of agriculture and food security, said the agreement with WFP will enable the youngest nation to transform its nascent agricultural sector by empowering smallholder farmers to produce enough.
"We are a rural country because the majority of our people live in rural areas and it's our responsibility to ensure that we lift them from rural areas. Other countries have done it and a lot of them did through transforming their agricultural sector," she told journalists in Juba.
She urged South Sudan to follow China's blueprint on the agricultural transformation that has helped lift millions out of poverty.
"In the recent past the People's Republic of China is one of those countries that have accelerated technological advancement through agricultural revolution," said Yanga.
"I always mention this to our people that in the 1960s China was a rural country and they could not even feed their people, but they had an ambitious program to ensure that they achieved food self-sufficiency for the majority of their people," she added.
Matthew Hollingworth, WFP country director, said empowering smallholder farmers is part of WFP's long-term vision in South Sudan.
"We believe that if we are going to serve the people that WFP wants to support which are the smallholder farmers in the country, we must have a strong robust agreement with the government to support an entity that can support those smallholder farmers and one of the best entities to deal with is the agricultural bank of any country we are working in," said Hollingworth.
He disclosed that WFP aims to achieve three objectives which include, empowering smallholder farmers, scale up commercial agriculture, build institutional capacity of Agricultural Bank of South Sudan (ABSS) and also support the quality of agricultural produce.
"WFP attempts to feed five million of the most vulnerable South Sudanese today, the majority of the food we buy to transfer is coming from outside, we want to change that," said Hollingworth.
"We know that if we can change that and buy from the country that we are working in, over time we will do ourselves out of business and that's the ultimate vision of WFP in South Sudan," said Hollingworth.
He disclosed that by supporting smallholder farmers to become productive enough enables them not only to meet their own families' needs but also to make a decent living.
Hollingworth said WFP bought 8,000 tons of food grown in South Sudan in 2019.
"I am hoping in the years to come, instead of talking about 5,000 tons of food being bought in this country we can talk in terms of 40,000 tons of food being bought. Instead of three or four small-scale farmers that we partner with, we can talk about hundreds of farmers that we partner with because in doing so we will speed up the change," he added.
The joint action agreement aims to harmonize the interventions and ongoing efforts to transform agriculture by specifically operationalizing the CAMP under the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP) of the African Union to achieve continental and regional agricultural development objectives. ■