FAO launches multimillion food project for states

FAO launches multimillion food project for states
Officials pose for a group photo during the launch of the South Sudan Emergency Food Production Programme. [Photo: courtesy]

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) launched the South Sudan Emergency Food Production Programme (SSEPP) to enhance food production in five states in the country.

The $8.4 million emergency food production program is aimed at boosting food production in the targeted five states of Northern Bahr el-Ghazal, Western Bahr el-Ghazal, Western Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, and Upper Nile.

The project that will run from 2022 to 2024, will engage various institutions and local food farmers across the selected states with activities that boost the production of the target crops such as sorghum, cowpeas, and rice.

Addressing the participants during the project launch, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Josephine Lagu, said the project would increase food production in the selected areas.

“We have targeted the crops that are going to be the focus on that would lead to an increase in the production,” Josephine said.

She added that the project would focus on the production of cereals to ensure stable food for every household. 

 “The crops that have been selected are our staple foods, such as rice, maize and sorghum,” she said.

The minister stated that most farmers in the country practice subsistence farming, saying that this type of farming cannot fight hunger in the country.

“We are saying this is not enough for this country to be able to become food-sufficient, we need every household to at least cultivate on acres or more.’’

“[The] workers will be there to guide the farmers on how to prepare the land, plant the seeds, weed and even harvest,” she said. 

The FAO Country Representative to South Sudan, Meshack Malo, said implementation of the emergency food production would focus on the provision of skills and seeds to the farmers.

“We are going to work on the next season that begins in February, but the purchase of seeds and organising the farmer begins in February.”

 “This project plays a critical role in (increasing food production) and it looks at the number of products like sorghum and rice, this is the critical element,” he added.

The Principal Country Economist at African Development Bank, Flavio Soares da Gama, said the fund was a response to increasing food production in Africa and South Sudan in particular.

“This support the African Development is providing to Republic of South Sudan, which is being implemented by our partner (FOA) is $8.4 million… as a response from the African Development Bank in increasing food production in Africa,” Flavio said.

He said that one of the things that the African Bank is doing is responding to the government of South Sudan’s request in regards to boosting agriculture.

The launch of the South Sudan Emergency Food Production Programme (SSEFPP) brought together many organisations coordinators and all states’ ministers of agriculture from the five pilot states.