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

The principal 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.



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.


  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.



James Thubo Ayul (Ph.D)

Associate Professor of Agricultural Economics

and Former Minister of Health, UNS - Southern Sudan