South Sudan is seeking to salvage soaring hunger through a new “master plan”, which will whirl petrodollars into food security.
While launching the country’s harvest season last Christmas, President Salva Kiir told reporters at his farm in Luri that “we want to use oil money in agriculture so that we produce enough food for people of South Sudan, the surplus can go to the market. This is the only thing we can do to come out of poverty.”
“The oil money should not just be consumed without anything being done with it,” he added.
South Sudanese Agriculture and Food Security Ministry is moving swiftly to implement the program, which it says will engage people and boost agricultural production.
Agriculture Minister Onyoti Adigo was quoted by Nairobi-based East African newspaper as saying his office is first reviewing a document called the Master Plan as it awaits payments from oil to kick-start the year-long pilot project that may include subsidised supplies from the government.
“I just notified all my ministry’s staff to immediately prepare a work plan in terms of machineries, fuel for farmers and quality seeds. We are going to prepare all these things and present them to the president so that all people can engage and boost agriculture sector earlier this year,” said Onyoti.
Recovering from a five-year civil war, the country is receiving over $5.5 million per day or more than $165 million per month from oil at the current oil prices.
Last year, the government was keen to reach pre-war levels of 350,000 to 400,000 barrels per day by mid-2020, in bid to revive its pre-war production levels.
Last year, the country realized resumption of production at several key oilfields in South Sudan. A landmark peace deal celebrated on October 2018 and cooperation with neighboring Sudan has significantly improved investment conditions for the energy sector in the country.
There has also been an uptick in foreign investment through oil and gas exploration companies including Oranto Petroleum, which signed a six-year exploration and production sharing agreement (EPSA) for Block B3 in 2017 and South Africa’s Strategic Fuel Fund, which in March 2019 signed an EPSA for Block B2.
Since 2015, agriculture was severely neglected despite the huge agricultural potential South Sudan has with sufficient arable land.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), only about 5 per cent of South Sudan is cultivated due to the civil war that started in 2013, and inadequate investment in the agriculture sector.