U.S. Government Hosts Conference on Improving Southern Sudan's Agriculture
The U.S. Government-through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Office of the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan-and the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) will host a conference August 24-25 in Nairobi, Kenya, to address challenges and priorities for revitalizing agriculture in southern Sudan.
Conference participants will examine both short- and long-term objectives to significantly increase agricultural production in southern Sudan, which was devastated by Sudan's 22-year civil war that ended in 2005 with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Despite enormous agriculture potential, poor transport, limited storage capacity and processing facilities, and a poor investment climate are among the legacies of conflict that have hindered development of the agriculture sector. As a result, most farmers produce for subsistence rather than profit. Meanwhile, consumers suffer from high prices of agricultural products, many of which are imported from neighboring countries. Though USAID and GOSS launched a new five-year Food, Agribusiness, and Rural Markets (FARM) program in May 2010, this conference will encourage and allow key stakeholders to increase investment and partnerships to support agriculture in southern Sudan.
Conference participants, including the GOSS, the U.S. Government and other international donors, agricultural research organizations, financial institutions, and multinational agribusinesses, will initiate development of an 18-month action plan to help subsistence farmers increase production and sell their surplus in local markets. For the longer-term, the conference will focus on establishing a five-year strategic plan for building a vibrant agricultural economy, including roads needed to transport items to markets.
"Agricultural development is a primary catalyst for future economic growth in southern Sudan. This conference will offer a unique opportunity for the Government of Southern Sudan and international partners to bring focus and momentum to a sector that will greatly benefit the Sudanese people," said U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan Jonathan S. Gration, Major General (Retired). General Gration praised "the exemplary vision and dedicated efforts of southern Sudan's recently departed Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Samson Kwaje." He added that "this Agricultural Conference would be dedicated to honoring the example and furthering the legacy of our dear friend and agricultural leader."
At the conference, USAID and the GOSS will launch an Agriculture Innovation Fund designed to finance public-private sector partnerships promoting new approaches to agricultural development in southern Sudan. USAID also plans to establish a United States-Southern Sudan Agriculture Advisory Council composed of agriculture experts from the two governments, and from universities in the United States and southern Sudan, to provide expert advice to the governments on the design and assessment of agriculture development programs in southern Sudan. USAID is also working to establish partnerships between Juba University, Catholic University of Sudan, John Garang University, and leading U.S. educational institutions.
This article was originally posted on Egypt - Sudan Business Communities