For Immediate Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The First Agricultural Trade Fair in South Sudan opened today in Juba, supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The four-day event is designed to showcase South Sudan's products and potential, and bring together national and international entrepreneurs to learn about opportunities in agriculture, fisheries, livestock, and forestry in the world's newest nation.
Republic of South Sudan Vice President Dr. Riek Machar Teny and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Betty Achan Ogwaro were among the dignitaries on hand to open the fair.
"Agriculture, for us in South Sudan, we say it is the backbone of the economy, because we know that the majority of our people live in a rural area, and they live on agriculture," Minister Achan Ogwaro said.
As an example of South Sudan's potential, Vice President Machar described how rich Western Equatoria state is in its agricultural production, including mangoes and pineapple, but farmers face challenges in bringing their goods to market. "This is where we need investors to come in who can buy products and preserve them, either process it locally, can it or dry it, and then send it to the areas that do not produce these products," he said.
USAID is working with the Government of South Sudan to help the new nation tap its great agricultural potential and reach its goal of becoming food secure, including by improving agricultural productivity and strengthening the capacity of the private and public sectors to support market-led agriculture; by helping to develop a commercial domestic seed and fertilizer industry; and by investing in infrastructure, including feeder roads that will help farmers access markets for their products.
"Currently, most smallholder farmers are only able to produce enough to support their families, and have not been able to profit from South Sudan's great natural resources potential because of poor infrastructure, lack of access to markets, low-quality seeds, shortage of labor, and lack of proper tools and mechanization," USAID Deputy Mission Director Peter Natiello said at the opening of the fair. "USAID wants to help South Sudan change this, so that smallholder farmers have access to quality seeds and fertilizer and improved farming practices, and access to markets through improved road networks."
Displays at the fair, which is open November 9-12, include tractors and other farm equipment, and products from throughout South Sudan, including items such as cassava, bamboo, flowers, beeswax, gum arabic, fruit, vegetables, and dried animal skins. The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and other ministries are hosting the event, with the support of USAID.
For more information, visit www.agfairsouthsudan.org.
Last updated: January 18, 2014