Peace, stability, and investments in key sectors could turn South Sudan into a major food producer, boosting not only the country’s economy but also contributing to regional food security. At the same time, the transformation could potentially set the stage for the country to become a hub for climate resilience and sustainable agricultural practices.
“In the face of persistent challenges, we have seen what can be achieved when we come together,” said Cindy McCain, executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
“We have seen farmers increase their yields, diversify their crops, and become more resilient. We have seen women and youth gain skills and income, contributing to their communities and local economies.”
Undoubtedly, the prospect of turning a country devastated by conflict and harsh climatic conditions into a breadbasket is an ambitious undertaking, but the potential payoff is enormous.
With the right investments and policies, South Sudan could not only feed its people but also become a crucial player in a region often plagued by food insecurity.
As Qu Dongyu, director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) noted, “A resilient, prosperous South Sudan can be a pillar of stability and a model for sustainable agriculture in East Africa.”
The three-day visit by McCain, Qu and Alvaro Lario, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), follows a joint UN report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world 2023, which found that over 120 million more individuals are suffering chronic malnourishment since 2019.
Significant investments needed
South Sudan presents an enormous potential as a major food producing nation. However, years of conflict, exacerbated by climate change, inadequate infrastructure, low levels of education, and high unemployment, are hindrances to progress, according to the FAO.
“South Sudan holds the potential to become the breadbasket of East Africa. However, the climate crisis, inadequate agricultural infrastructure, instability, and economic shocks continuously disrupt agricultural and livestock productivity and food availability,” noted Qu, stressing the need for additional funding.
“Urgently required are investments and policies that can enhance long-term food security, resilience and climate adaptation,” he added.
Collaboration between the three UN agencies, the government, and other partners in the country have helped stave off famine in recent years, and have enabled farmers to increase their food production and incomes.
However, to address the ongoing hunger crisis, avoid further setbacks, and mitigate future crises, scaled-up and sustained action is necessary, according to the agencies.
“To do this, we need to mobilise significant investments and implement best practices to combat food insecurity and adapt to climate change. This will also greatly enhance rural employment. But we need to act promptly,” urged Lario.