Agriculture against Famine in Yambio

May 11, 2017

Clement Faustino Mokorondere, Director of Agriculture and Extension services – Smaff/Gbundue State, and Michael Ariebi, Agronomist CSSO from Uganda, teach Santos Babala (center), extension worker, agriculture techniques. Photo: UNDP

Food insecurity in South Sudan is affecting an estimated 5 million people, who urgently need livelihoods assistance. Famine has been declared in some northern parts of South Sudan early this year where approximately 100,000 people are already facing it, while 1 million more are on the brink.

Most South Sudanese depend on agriculture to survive. The country is rich in natural resources and has a diverse ecology, however according to a study conducted by the African Development Bank, even though 75% of the country’s land area is suitable for agriculture only 4% of this area is cultivated continuously or periodically.

The ongoing conflict and the drought have disrupted crop production.

The African Development Bank also finds South Sudan imports as much as 50% of its needs, including 40% of its cereals from neighbouring countries, particularly Uganda and Kenya. Total food imports are estimated to be in the range of $200-300 million a year, but the massive price increases leave the majority of South Sudanese with no access to these basic food imported items.

UNDP, in line with its mandate in South Sudan, is helping state and national institutions to develop and strengthen civil service capacity to reinvigorate local economies.

Through the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Initiative for Capacity Enhancement, funded by the Government of Norway, 112 civil service support officers (CSSOs) from Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have been deployed across a range of ministers and sectors to mentor and coach South Sudanese counterparts – known as “twins”-.

Eight CSSOs are working with their twins in state and national ministries of agriculture in the towns of Yambio, Torit, Juba, and Wau.

Michael Ariebi, Agronomist from Uganda, and Dr. Abera Teklemariam Haile, Plant Protection officer from Ethiopia are based in Yambio, Gbudue state, and together with their twins they have developed a proposal for hybrid maize production to end food insecurity in South Sudan.

“The food insecurity phenomenon of South Sudan is a paradox as the country is blessed with ample natural resources especially fertile soils and water from the White Nile.  However, there is a tangible hope of alleviating the food insecurity in the country through robust hybrid maize production as witnessed by the neighbouring countries: Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia who had broken the yoke of food scarcity through a massive hybrid maize revolutions,” says Dr. Abera.

Watch this video to find out how the CSSOs are empowering their South Sudanese twins, how together they developed this innovative idea and what the hybrid maize production project is about.

Agriculture against Famine in Yambio