South Sudan will receive a $14 million grant from the African Development Bank(AFDB) for a five-year-long project targeted at promoting agribusiness and plugging the gaps created by protracted conflicts and flooding in the country.
According to a report from the AfDB on Wednesday, plans are underway to disburse the grant to implement the Agricultural Markets, Value Addition and Trade Development (AMVAT) project.
The new project will be implemented by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) alongside South Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
It is expected to benefit no fewer than 20,000 family farmers in Central and Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states, an area that has many persons who are internally displaced
Speaking during the signing ceremony, South Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Planning, Athian Ding Athian noted that it was significant for the country to free itself from the dependence on oil and place more relevance on promoting agribusinesses.
“A diversified economy away from oil and long-term growth depends on promoting agribusiness development and also thanked the African Development Bank for its continued support for the country.
“With the support from our partners, we are building an improved marketing and trade environment for agribusinesses, increasing people’s incomes and creating new jobs, particularly for the youth,” he said.
AfDB’s Country Manager for South Sudan explained that inefficient marketing infrastructure majorly contributes to the low level of productivity in South Sudan and other African countries.
“A key factor explaining Africa’s and indeed South Sudan’s low level of agricultural value addition is the inefficient marketing infrastructure. This prevents farmers and processors from realizing the full value of their produce, even in their raw form.”
In South Sudan, the impacts of persistent violence and unusual flooding have increased the rate of food importation, leaving the huge agricultural potential unrealised.
According to a United Nations report in 2020, the country has been “unable to produce enough food products to support its population and currently imports half of its food needs.”
“Thanks to this generous contribution from the African Development Bank, farmers will move faster from subsistence to commercial agriculture by having access to new technologies, markets and linkages with other services and actors,” Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan said.