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South Sudanese want to reduce starvation by boosting agribusiness

O. Hannington
With South Sudan teetering on the brink of man-made famine, increasing numbers of people want to work in agriculture to reduce the food crisis.
5.08.2014  |  Yei
A group in Yei after receiving a certificate in agribusiness, July 24.
A group in Yei after receiving a certificate in agribusiness, July 24.

Monday Moi is among those from Yei County, in southwestern South Sudan, who plans to work in agribusiness. I want to create a job for me, and for others too,” he says, adding that he wants to start a cassava processing business.

Unemployment in the country is around 75 percent among the youth who form the majority of the population.

I want to create a job for me, and for others too.”
Monday Moi
But Moi knows that enthusiasm alone will not get the business off he ground. Like others, he lacks savings and is hopeful he will be supported by SARK, an international NGO operating in South Sudan.

President Salva Kiir and other government officials have reiterated the need to embark on agriculture in order solve the country’s devastating food crisis, which aid agencies warn could affect hundreds of thousands.

Mana Adelemo the Project Coordinator for SARK, says they provide financial support to young people who show they can innovate in agribusiness. We organise competitions for committed individuals and groups to participate, and candidates are chosen by merit,” Mana says.

SARK runs the Agri-Business Creation (ABC) and the Youth Engagement Programmes (YEP) in South Sudan. With financial support from the NGO, Moi plans to start the small processing firm in his village. I want to make pure cassava flour for sale,” he says.

It is not clear how significant such financial support given to ‘committed and innovative’ young people will make as far as addressing the fears of South Sudan’s looming famine and high unemployment rate.

Moi however wants to stick to his plans to farm cassava. Upon harvest, he says he will begin to prepare it for processing. He says he will peel it and dry it in the sun and later grind it to a fine flour, using his small grinding machine powered by gasoline engine.

His success depends on winning the competition as only then will he secure enough money from the NGO to buy the grinding machine and other equipment he needs.

Value added agricultural products will make you (youth) economically independent.”
Edmond Gogo
However, he does not know how much he will get if he wins as SARK has not set a standard amount.

The Commissioner of Agriculture of Yei County, Edmond Gogo, says he thinks the South Sudanese need to move from traditional agricultural to value-added agricultural practices.

In addition to increasing food, value added agricultural products will make you (youth) economically independent,” Gogo says.

South Sudan is suffering a civil war that has already claimed more than 10,000 lives. The war has resulted in mass rapes and has displaced more than 1.5 million people. The civil war has pushed the country to the brink of famine.