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Agriculture in Southern Sudan: Challenges and Investment Opportunities

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Dr. James Thubo AyulIntroduction

Southern Sudan has an area of 640,000 Square kilometers, which is equivalent to 25 % of the total area of the Sudan. It is located at the centre of Sub-Saharan Africa, bordering Ethiopia in the East, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the South and Central African Republic in the West and Northern part of the Sudan in the North.

South Sudan ecology map

 

Ecologically, the area has a sub-humid climate and favorable rainfall which is divided into seven agro-ecological zones namely; The Greenbelt, the Ironstone Plateau, the Central and Southeastern Hills and Mountains, the Flood Plains, the Nile and Sobat rivers zone, the arid and pastoral zone and the Central Rain lands.

The rainfall pattern varies by region ranging from 500 -2000 mm per year and provides growing season of 130 - 300 days. Therefore, agricultural performance varies considerably from climate zone to climate zone and from year to year. Furthermore, the temperatures are typically above 25°C, but rise above 35°C, particularly during the dry season, which lasts four months per year from January to April. In terms of resources, the region is blessed with ample natural and human resources that include vast fertile lands, extensive hardwood forestry, large amounts of fresh water and minerals, and variety of livestock. These endowments have made the region suitable for different kinds of agricultural and economic activities, such as production of food and cash crops, livestock and fisheries, production of wood and furniture, minerals, construction of tourism hotels and oil.

Also, the area has a population of more than 8 million persons in the 10 states where approximately, 80 % live in rural areas and only 20 % are urban. In terms of economic activities, 33 % of the rural population lives on agriculture, whereas 45 % and 12 % are agro-pastoralists and Fishermen respectively. The remaining part of the rural population lives on other economic activities.

 

Agriculture Sector

The Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) has vision and mission that make agriculture the indispensible wealth for the people of Southern Sudan through the following goals:

  1. Food- self-sufficiency by the year2011.

  2. Poverty reduction by 30% in 2011.

  3. Increase of the Gross Domestic Products (GDP) by 25% in 2011.

 

The sector is divided into two sub-sectors:

Agriculture and Forestry

This subsector is largely practiced by majority of rural population for subsistence purposes, with minimal cash crop production. the major crops produced in this subsector includes, Sorghum, maize, Rice, Sunflower, Cotton, sesame, Cassava, beans and peanuts. Other crops that are produced in small scale include: coffee, tea, sugar and tobacco. There is also great potential for growing fruits and vegetables such as bananas, mangoes, lemons, pineapples, onions, okra, tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes and cabbages.

Currently, the region depends totally on food imports from neighboring Countries such as Uganda and Kenya as well as northern Sudan as a result of long civil war. However, the region is rich in forest resources which cover about 29% of the total land area. These forests have different varieties of trees that include indigenous African trees such as, Acacia, Mahogany and Teak which constitute major sources of timber, Gum Africa (Arabic), charcoal and firewood.

 

Livestock and Fisheries

Livestock is of great importance to the economy of the Southern Sudanese, especially for food security, employment and culture. It is estimated that Southern Sudan has a total population of 12 million heads of cattle and 11 million heads of sheep and goats. The larger proportion of the livestock is found in Greater upper Nile and Greater Bahr El Gazal regions. Furthermore, the area enjoys a large stock of fish resources in the River Nile and its many tributaries. Therefore, there are more chances for investment in the area of fisheries in Southern Sudan.

 

Key Challenges

Theprincipal constraints among others that face the development of agricultural sector in Southern Sudan include:

  1. Inadequate financial services.

  2. Low/no use of improved technologies.

  3. Poor rural infrastructure that hampers access to markets.

  4. Inadequate inputs including seeds, planting material, improved breeds, fertilizers, and tools.

  5. Low literacy.

  6. Weak/no agricultural and livestock research and extension services.

  7. Poor quality animals, lack of animal health services, lack of water and pasture for livestock especially during the dry season.

  8. Lack of control to pests and diseases of both crops and livestock.

  9. Shortage of skilled labour.

 

Current SPLM Policies for Agriculture 2010

The SPLM, which is the main ruling party in Southern Sudan, has critically reviewed agriculture in 2010 to identify its weaknesses, constraints, strengths and opportunities. As a result the party leadership developed comprehensive policies aiming at improving the sectors of agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries in order to achieve food security through transforming the subsistence agriculture system to a surplus production system well connected to markets and guarantee households access to food. These policies include the following:

  1. Declaration of self-reliant food policy for southern Sudan.

  2. Mobilization, organization and empowerment of local farmers, cattle owners, fisher men and entrepreneurs for active and effective participation in agricultural reform and food self-sufficiency program.

  3. Immediate allocation of at least 10% of the oil revenue for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and livestock development.

  4. Investment in agricultural research and extension services.

  5. Improvement of farmers' and entrepreneurs' access to improve agriculture and livestock inputs (technology, seeds, veterinary medicines etc), services (extension, microfinance, information) and markets such as feeder roads, transport, storage systems and information.

  6. Development of rural and agriculture market infrastructure and services

  7. Promotion of investment in the agriculture and livestock sector by exemption of agriculture inputs and outputs from taxes

  8. Promotion of water management and agriculture production under irrigation systems.

  9. Promotion of private sector and foreign investment in agricultural sector.

  10. Promotion of environmental protection and conservation by enacting laws and encouragement of good agriculture and livestock production practices.

 

Expectations

The long war in the Sudan has devastated the basic infrastructure and other all sectors including human resources in Southern Sudan. After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the region was farced by severe difficulties in meeting the expectations of all citizens in food availability and the basic needs. Over the last five years, the international community and friendly countries have supported the GOSS in addressing the following fields:

  1. Roads and bridges.

  2. Agriculture and agricultural inputs.

  3. Specialized financial services.

  4. Training: In-service and postgraduate.

  5. Irrigation system.

  6. International trade in agricultural products and other related activities.

  7. Agricultural machineries, tools and equipment.

  8. Storage facilities.

  9. Joint agricultural corporations.

  10. Joint entrepreneurships.

 

Investment Opportunities

Although Southern Sudan is currently a net importer of agricultural products, the region has an outstanding natural resource base for the production of wide range of crops, forest trees, fisheries and livestock. Thus, the following sectors are suggested as potential fields for domestic and international investors:

a.Rain-fed mechanized schemes for grains and cash crops.
b.Irrigated farms for sugarcane, fruits and vegetables production and processing
c.Integrated mechanized agricultural services.
d.Nurseries farms.
e.Gum- Africa (Arabic), Timber and woods production and processing.
f.Dairy, pig and poultry farms for eggs, meat and milk production.
g.Veterinary pharmacies.
h.Fish production.
i.Bees-Honey farms.
j.Wild animals' game reserves.
k.Slaughter houses.
l.Agrochemicals, machineries, tools and equipment.
m. Banking and other financial services.
n.In-service and postgraduate training.
o.Irrigation system.
p.Storage facilities.

References

  1. SPLM Policy Framework for the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) 2010, Work Draft
  2. Investment Guide for Southern Sudan, drafts 2010.
  3. Upper Nile Investor Guide, 2009.
  4. The Opportunities and Challenges of delivering rapid and inclusive growth in Southern Sudan, 2010.

 

By

James Thubo Ayul (Ph.D)

Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics

and Former Minister of Health, UNS - Southern Sudan

 

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Comments (15)
  • Othwonh Thabo

    Wow...that's a great thinking, we are looking forward to a day when our scientists and experts put their heads and hands together, in order to turn all these ideas into actions that will change the trend of life on the earth of southern Sudan. GOSS does have good policies and guidelines, the key challenge is tranlating those policies into practice.

    Othwonh from Kigali, Rwanda

  • jalpan

    Yes Dr. James this is the way that we can rise up our beloved south by looking forword to the natural resources that southern Sudan have and to apply the scietific methods by inculding the experts on those differents feilds. Thanks for this act.

  • Sabit Okwagi

    WOW.thats great.Dr.James.this is a geniune.and its a scientific methods by including all the facts with systematic study and experience on the fields. our GOSS are suppuse to take that in to the considrations ,and implement those ideas which will bosst our economy and make us a self reliable nation and self sufficient,by putting together all the requitred facts that been point out by Dr.James.thank you bro.James.may God bless you,and bless us with more like you.

  • Onwar Adiang

    That is very great Dr. Thubo.Infact the potentiality that our beloved south has in this particular sector is tremendously high. However all these good ideas and thoughts will continue to remain on the shelves unless taken seriously and efforts are exserted to overcome some if not all of the challeneges mentioned. I would also like to shed some lights on some of the issues that I think are of paramount importance for agricultural development:
    1. Stablization of the security situation through synergized approaches/policies that involve all the stakeholders (government, communities etc).
    2. Clear government agricultural policy with well defined roles and incentives to the investors. Also there should be an agricultural map done through an agricultural survey to indicate what should be grown where.
    3. Budget allocations for the Natural Resources Sector should be at least between 10-15% as suggested above in the SPLM Agric. Policy Framework 2010, because without real investment on this sector we will not achieve anything. Because at the end of the day and particularly under our circumistance as an emerging nation, government will have to play a leading role in putting the required Infrastructures for Agric. development.

    So let us continue this spirit of shedding lights on what will contribute to make our beloved Country a prospereous one particulary at this high time of our history..

  • gabriel Joshua Gadet

    Yes, Dr, you had illustrated the actual ideas on agricutlure in south sudan, but our main challenges are the very ones you had mentioned. in my personal point of view as an agriculturalist if we start to carry out agricultural activities and investment in south we must concentrate on irrigated agriculture.Goss should allocate a clear policy for the agricutlural budget.

  • Aliu Eliza

    Good report, however, i wonder if this report would have contain recommendations and an outline of how Southern Sudan would approach some of the challenges in order to rich 2011 Goals/expectations. what is that government should do? what should citizen do? should investors be invited to work on the opportunities? should the government get loan from World Bank? or what exactly do u think should be done in order to kick off with this potential opportunity? I suppose this report is hollow but thanks for bringing it to the attention of the citizens. Student, Bachelor of Education

  • Yohannes Asres

    Very important subject and issue for SS. What I am worried about is the sector is very challenging. The first and foremost issue in ss is the Land policy issue. The GOSS, should do very wise study and decision on this before hand. Otherwise, giving due consideration for agriculture even more than the oil industry will bring fast economic growth in this period where climate change plays a great role in the sector.

    Yohannes Asres, Agronomist
    February 12 2011
    Juba,SS

  • PETER GITHINJI WAMBUGU

    A WISE THINKING. I would like to partner with the people and government of Southern Sudan and transfer the knowledge I have in modern farming methods in terms of small holder drip irrigation and greenhouses.Done that in Kenya and a very big number of people have benefited. I am able to construct affordable and cheap greenhouses and drip irrigation kits. I also help in advising on crop production.
    Peter G. Wambugu

  • BOL BULMANYANGDIT

    our people listen is better to abandon and sought out what we are mean party programme in our community development project strategy,is against what we are plan to performing.
    so that our planning cannot being deny it significant will goes through development which we want from our people can easy understand for them-self rather than to deny it and furthermore the can support emerge with lifeforms of current situation to make better South Sudan Country for all.
    Thanks you very much Dr/James. Former Ministry of Health
    Bol Bulmanyangdit

  • George Tanious

    Although am Egyptian Coptic , am the happiest person for the development of Southern Sudan. i wish you don't make the mistake of other countries and let the employers to be from other countries. 1st satisfy all the jobs by your own people or foreigners in case your own people are still not skilled enough to manage.but priority to your people.bring the best experienced and skilled manager directors even if foreigners till your people are skilled to handle it but keep eye on them always specially if Arab (known by stealthy behaviors). don't allow investors to come with all their employees, work yours or mix them up till Southern Sudan people are skilled so as not to lose the investment. Please i want something to be done , tough penalty law for drugs and Bribe. In Malaysia drugs penalty is Execution.last thing plan your work and work your plan... cause am sure after all your dreams , you will be in a hurry and mess everything up and lose all the money that is now in your hands ,, last chance for new world

  • Mangoong Deng

    Doing Business in The Republic of south Sudan ( RoSS )

    As well many nation of the world may knows on 09 /7/2011 the south Sudan celebrated an dependence day .So now South Sudan is becomes a number 54 of African counties . and number 193 in the world .


    The Environment .

    Environmental fresh protection and pollution control have becomes issues of special concern to both the government and Investors

    Years of concentrations on economic growth have resulted in level of environmental degradation that its may case threaten the well being of the new born populace and limits the potential of the economic and infrastructure of further development.
    As a result, of the government and private enterprises have begun working to remedy existing problem and at the same time the lay the ground work for a healthier and more productive tomorrow.

    Agricultural products

    Well as many may knows the SS is agricultural investment land , but not used till not with only limited arable land ,SS is dependent on imports to meet demand for many primary agricultural products ; except meat .this reality plus growing prosperity and government efforts to bring its agricultural policies more into lines with the WTO rule , has helped transform the regions into an exceptional profitable market for a host of items . in some years back , for instance agricultural imports amounted to 75% over the previous years .

    Leading import items current in cereal grain for human consumption fruit , aquatic products , chickens , meat and various the raw material for food processing .

  • Gideon mwangi

    Very good agricultural policies noted but how can a small scale investor from kenya be accorded the opportunity to invest in agriculture green house farming in your country

  • Sherif usmael  - Agricultural investment opportunity

    Dr .james it is very good opportunity for every body from the world to invest in ss .so we have to collaborate and produce veggtable crop production and productivity as wel

  • Garang Kur Uchu - Agricultural  - Investment in Agricultural sector in South Sudan

    The topic is very interesting and worth time spend reading it.

    There are so many things that can enable the development of the agricultural sector to go on well or on the other side it may remain underdeveloped as usual. Investment in agricultural sector in the Republic of south Sudan first lies at the hands of the line ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, fisheries and animals resources. If this ministry could at first and foremost deals with the development of agricultural extension services policy and give thorougher equipment to the promoters and make use of its little available man power that is currently willing to get engaged in the sector, then the required changes and super power countries will by any definitions find their own ways to involved and more interested in investing in the agricultural sector. The international investors at some points need to see the security of the resources that they are willing to invest at and also they want to see the policy developed and it is internationally fit to any lawful standards.
    The investors should also look at the potential business opportunities in South Sudan which doesn't only get limited to sales in the market but indirectly they should initiate their business plans by looking at other different angles which includes but not limited agricultural colleges that offer basic capacity buildings to young willing agriculturalists in many sectors of agriculture.

  • Peter Omondi Odeny  - Just thanking your effort towards conservation of

    Am peter from kenya,Diploma in forestry at kenya forestry college in the year 2008 but jobles upto date.Am just doing my small scale farm forestry at home because i dont have good capital to expand it. i need a help on that line because am a youth.

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