USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah today in Juba, Sudan, signed a communiqué on behalf of the U.S. Government to help boost private sector engagement in agriculture in southern Sudan, where the vast majority of people rely on agriculture for their livelihood. In spite of enormous potential of the agriculture sector, most southern Sudanese farmers grow only enough to feed their families, but not to earn an income.
Listen to part of his speech at the event:
USAID, the Netherlands, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and the International Fertilizer Development Center signed the communiqué, agreeing that they will help develop southern Sudan’s commercial agriculture sector by increasing agricultural productivity, supporting agribusinesses, and improving agricultural research and technology through:
- Expanded use of quality seed and integrated soil fertility management
- Development and expansion of an agro-dealer network
- Revitalization of local agricultural training and research centers
- Development of policies and regulations that support business development, sound regulatory practices, and innovation
- Development of institutions that promote and support market infrastructure and information systems
- Increasing farmers’ and entrepreneurs’ access to finance.
“Any effort to transform agriculture has to be comprehensive,” Shah said. “The days of doing a small demonstration project in one part of a county and calling that agricultural development must be over.” Noting that he met with smallholder farmers from surrounding villages before the event, he added, “It is the smallholder farmers, most of whom are women, who will determine whether or not this effort succeeds.”
The event was held at Rajaf Farm, a commercial farm near Juba, which is financed by three British and seven Sudanese partners on land that was previously not being farmed or otherwise utilized. They agreed with the population of adjoining Rajaf Village to help establish a community farm that the villagers will plant and manage, with assistance from the commercial farmers. The collaboration has brought employment and agricultural training to the village residents, who previously did not earn a daily wage. Now they earn 3 Sudanese pounds (approximately $1) per hour ($8 per day) to work at Rajaf Farm and are learning technical skills.