The African Development Bank (AfDB) has signed an agreement with South Sudan to give Juba a US $14m grant to boost agriculture. The Agricultural Markets, Value Addition and Trade Development five-year project which aims to enhance agricultural productivity will be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in close liaison with South Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
According to a statement released to local press, the project will help increase productivity and incomes of almost 20,000 farming families in Central and Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei states, most of whom are formerly internally displaced persons who have now returned to their homes.
It is also projected to create aggregation business opportunities for farmers and traders, including women and youth, while provide them with new skills and the agro-processing equipment they need to produce competitive products. Farmer groups joining the aggregation centres will have their products not only tested and quality certified, but also traded with the private sector on their behalf.
Speaking during the signing ceremony in Juba on Wednesday, South Sudan’s Minister of Finance and Planning Athian Ding Athian praised AfDB for the great support granted. A diversified economy away from oil and long-term growth depends on promoting agribusiness development.
“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 South Sudan Country Manager, Benedict Kanu, said, “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 realising the full value of their produce, even in their raw form.”