Trade fair uncovers South Sudan’s agricultural potential

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14 Nov 2011

Trade fair uncovers South Sudan’s agricultural potential

11 November 2011 – Aiming to explore farming possibilities and draw investors, South Sudan held its first agricultural trade fair at Nyakuron Cultural Centre in the capital Juba from 9 to 12 November.

Initiated by South Sudan Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, with support from the UN Development Programme, the event invited investors to support food production in minimizing the country's overdependence on imported products.

Gabriel Dankyi, project manager for the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)-supported Food Security and Agriculture project, was upbeat about the trade fair.

"If we are able to position ourselves very well, it should be possible for us as a country not only to feed ourselves ...but also use the surplus for export," Mr. Dankyi said.

Commenting on the fair's vast array of products, he added that it had given people a new outlook on the potential for agriculture in the country.

Samuel John Awok, Director General in the Upper Nile Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, said the fair was important in giving citizens a chance to sell their products to the world.

He noted that Upper Nile could produce food as well as cash crops like Gum Africa (sister to Gum Arabic), castor beans (the source of castor oil), sim-sim (to produce vegetable oil), cotton, and sunflowers, adding that it was time all citizens put their heads together to develop the agricultural sector.

"South Sudan should be seen in the world market as an exporter of agricultural products, not oil, because agriculture is a renewable resource," he said.

Mr. Awok advised all South Sudanese to make food production a top priority if hunger were to be minimized in the new country.

Peace Moite, marketing director for Afroganics Company, a South Sudanese company based in Juba, said the show had given her an opportunity to network with farmers.

According to Mane Sauver, coordinator for the World Food Programme's Purchase for Progress pilot project in Juba, WFP was importing tens of thousands of metric tons of food to distribute to beneficiaries.

He said his project was aimed at reversing this import trend by supporting local farming communities and buying food locally for WFP pipelines, which had been made possible by the trade fair.

The fair was attended representatives of government institutions, UN agencies, non-governmental organizations and private businesses.

Photo credit: UNMISS/James Sokiri