‘Agriculture number one priority in South Sudan’

WebsitesThe newest country on the world map, South Sudan, is looking to attract foreign direct investments across various industries to develop its economy

Last week, at the South Sudan Investment Roadshow in Dubai, Deng Deng Nhial, South Sudan Ambassador to the UAE, addressed a huge delegate of businessmen and media at The Address Boulevard Hotel about the favourable business environment that the country can offer to investors that include rich natural resources, pro business leadership and regulations (including duty exemptions and concessions for imports), labour pool with native English skills and the strategic location in East Africa.

Speaking about the tangible opportunities in priority sectors like agriculture, petroleum, mining and infrastructure, the Ambassador stressed that development of agribusiness takes precedence over all over sectors in the country at the moment, it being the backbone of its economy since 95 per cent of the 648,000 sq km in the country is arable and much of the population rural, i.e, 80 per cent. 

In an interview with African Farming, Onyoti Adigo Nyikwec, minister of agriculture and food security, said that food will last longer than oil. “In the light of recent volatility in oil pricing across the world, we have decided to invest into something more long-term like agriculture. The government believes that there is a great need to develop agriculture because unlike oil, crops will never dry up if looked after properly. It provides food, cash crops and help in empowering youth and the women. Agriculture, I believe, can take the country ahead.”

Blessed with fertile land and abundant water resources, earlier farming was only for local consumption. But now South Sudan is looking to commercialise and export food products like sorghum, sunflower, gum acacia and honey. “The more we produce, the more self-sufficient we become,” the minister added.

Not just agriculture but even aquaculture is important in the daily lives of South Sudanese population. With no advance equipment for fish farming, most of the sector is untapped. The current wild fishery output is 140,000 tonnes per year but the potential can go up to 200,000 tonnes per year.

Minister Nyikwec explained the recently declared The Comprehensive Agriculture Master Plan and Irrigation Development Master Plan (IDMP) covering five subsectors – crops, livestock, fishery, forestry and institutional development. Few projects in the pipeline include

- Capacity building

-Construction of national diagnostic laboratory for livestock

-Steps towards drought resilience and livelihood

-Mitigation of land degradation

-Research collaboration in the field of vaccination and animal production

With regards to opportunities, the minister said that the government has identified a number of priority programmes in the CAMP and IDMP, which gives the investors an option to select the project and partner of their choice.

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